From Zoella to Zoe Sugg: How the British vlogger launched an empire
In the initial days of YouTube vlogging – when “YouTuber” wasn’t as socially acceptable a professional title as it is today – people used to shoot videos from their bedrooms using a makeshift vlogging camera set-up. For the digital natives, this meant a peek into someone else’s life & that ushered in the era of “relatable” content.
Several wildly popular YouTube stars were just starting out back then in 2009 & there were fewer rules or benchmarks to be followed. The 30-year-old girl we know as Zoella was then working as an apprentice at an interior design company. It’s when she started her blog Zoella, which would then go on to garner 11.2 million subscribers.
It wouldn’t be wrong to call Zoella, or Zoe Sugg, as her real name goes one of the OG “influencers” in the YouTube space or even the whole of the internet. She’s created an extremely enviable career from her blogging & vlogging. In the process, she’s found her entrepreneurial streak, her own brands, worked on exceptional collab campaigns, and ventures into publishing, albeit not without a modicum of controversy.
Back to the beginning
The British blogger started her videos out of her bedroom at her family home in Wiltshire. Compare that to today, when she has her own flourishing career in the field, fame, and a business empire based out of Brighton – a lot has happened in a decade. From her early days of talking & writing about fashion & make-up, she found her niche.
Slowly, she started collaborating with other influencers. This was before “collab” was a mainstream marketing gimmick. Back then bloggers & vloggers would get in on each other’s channels for the sheer fun of it. Her content ranged from beauty hauls, makeup tutorials, beauty hacks, fashion favorites, and of course, the extremely festive series she runs during the holiday season.
Once you reach a level of fame, writing a book strikes as one of the obvious next steps. In 2014, she signed a book deal with Penguin Books. Thus came her record-breaking book Girl Online about her life growing up on the internet. It became the fastest-selling debut novel, selling 78,109 copies in its first week.
Controversies & book plots
Soon enough, though, rumors went viral that she hadn’t written the book herself. The idea that a ghostwriter was behind the story for which Zoe Sugg was getting all the unprecedented accolades to her credit seemed a bit unsettling to everyone. Zoe clarified that she did, indeed, have help with her book.
She shared, “Thanks for all the positive feedback about Girl Online and for the doubters out there, of course, I was going to have help from Penguin’s editorial team in telling my story, which I talked about from the beginning. Everyone needs help when they try something new. The story and the characters of Girl Online are mine. I want to thank all of you who have taken time to support the book.”
The controversy soon assumed the proportions of a scandal. The barrage of social media interaction made her quit the internet for a brief while. She clarified that she won’t be leaving YouTube, but she went on a hiatus from her regular vlogs. Of course, that’s all in the past now that she’s published more books following that, including the other two books in the Girl Online trilogy & the Cordially Invited guides.
More fame & $$$ at her door
Right at the time of the book scandal, she was also invited to be a part of a charity event where she shared the stage with the likes of Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and Ellie Goulding. She also got her own wax figures at Madame Tussauds in London in the following year.
Now, she is a sharp businesswoman. She has her own range of cosmetics called Zoella beauty, which also saw record-breaking sales. All but one item on offer sold out overnight at the time of launch. The entrepreneurial streak first showed itself when she & her influencer brother Joe Sugg together launched a line of branded merchandise that sold out within 25 minutes of launch.
While her brands didn’t stay on for long, she keeps the buzz going by collaborating with popular brands & companies, including the American beauty brand ColourPop Cosmetics. She also worked on the creation of a brand new video editing app, Filmm. At an estimated net worth of $2.5-4 million, Zoe Sugg is going strong.