Vlogging Careers: Everyday Expertise, Collaboration and Authenticity

  • Daniel Ashton
  • Karen Patel
Part of the Dynamics of Virtual Work book series (DVW)


This chapter discusses vlogging as an increasingly visible and normalised form of cultural work. The authors criticise the all-too-common assumption that the new careers vlogging offers are open to anyone, arguing that how-to guidance and journalistic coverage understate the barriers to entry and obscure the various forms of expertise required, including the underlying strategies vloggers use to engage their audiences by interacting with fans and collaborators, and the skills they require to stage a relatable authenticity. The chapter analyses the social media presence of four prominent vloggers.


  1. Ashton, D. (2014). Making media workers: Contesting film and television industry career pathways. Television and New Media, 16(3), 275–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashton, D. (2015). Creative work careers: Pathways and portfolios for the creative economy. Journal of Education and Work, 28(4), 388–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ashton, D., & Conor, B. (2016). Screenwriting, higher education and digital ecologies of expertise. New Writing, 13(1), 98–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ault, S. (2014, August 5). Survey: YouTube stars more popular than mainstream celebs among U.S. teens. Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  5. Bassett, C., Fotopoulou, A., & Howland, K. (2015). Expertise: A report and a manifesto. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 21(3), 328–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baym, N. K. (2015). Connect with your audience! The relational labor of connection. Communication Review, 18(1), 14–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bish, J. (2014, September 4). Vain and inane: The rise of Britain’s dickhead vloggers. Vice. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  8. Burgess, J. (2012). YouTube and the formalisation of amateur media. In D. Hunter, R. Lobato, M. Richardson, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Amateur media: Social, cultural and legal perspectives (pp. 53–58). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009). The entrepreneurial vlogger: Participatory culture beyond the professional-amateur divide. In P. Snickars & P. Vonderau (Eds.), The YouTube reader (pp. 89–107). Stockholm: National Library of Sweden.Google Scholar
  10. Ciampa, R., & Moore, T. (2015). YouTube channels for dummies. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Conor, B. (2014). Gurus and Oscar winners: How-to screenwriting manuals in the new cultural economy. Television and New Media, 15(2), 121–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Creative Skillset. (n.d.). Blogger/vlogger. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  13. Cruz, E. G., & Thornham, H. (2015). ‘Raw talent in the making’: Imaginary journeys, authorship and the discourses of expertise. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 21(3), 314–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dennis, R. J. (2015, March 24). Life as a vlogger: What’s it like? We asked 10 YouTubers. MakeUseOf. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  15. Destructnatr. (2015, January 31). Why you shouldn’t start a YouTube channel (AW double DNA bomb) [vlog]. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  16. Deuze, M., & Lewis, N. (2013). Professional identity and media work. In M. Banks, R. Gill, & S. Taylor (Eds.), Theorizing cultural work: Labour, continuity and change in the cultural and creative industries (pp. 161–174). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Duffy, B. E. (2015, March 18). The gendered politics of digital brand labor. Antenna. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  18. Duffy, B. E., & Hund, E. (2015). ‘Having it all’ on social media: Entrepreneurial femininity and self-branding among fashion bloggers. Social Media + Society, July–December, 1–11. Google Scholar
  19. Dunn, G. (2015, December 14). Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame. Fusion. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  20. Gandini, A. (2015). The rise of coworking spaces: A literature review. Ephemera, 15(1), 193–205.Google Scholar
  21. Gill, R. (2010). ‘Life is a pitch’: Managing the self in new media work. In M. Deuze (Ed.), Managing media work (pp. 249–262). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Graefer, A. (2016). The work of humour in affective capitalism: A case study of celebrity gossip blogs. Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 16(4), 143–162.Google Scholar
  23. Grünewald, L., Haupt, J., & Bernardo, F. (2014, July 14). Media-intermediation and careers on YouTube: How musicians get empowered in post-industrial media-economies. Muke. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  24. Harvey, D. (2013, November 13). Meet the vloggers: Self employed and ‘worth a fortune’. BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  25. Hearn, A. (2008). ‘Meat, Mask, Burden’: Probing the contours of the branded ‘self’. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8(2), 197–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heritage, S. (2017, May 22). How to be a vlogger: A guide for wannabe YouTubers. The Guardian. Retrieved May 25, 2017, from
  27. Hesmondhalgh, D., & Baker, S. (2011). Creative labour: Media work in three cultural industries. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Honor. (2014, January). How to make your first Youtube video. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from
  29. Jenkins, H., & Carpentier, N. (2013). Theorizing participatory intensities: A conversation about participation and politics. Convergence, 19(3), 265–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jerslev, A. (2016). In the time of the microcelebrity: Celebrification and the YouTuber Zoella. International Journal of Communication, 10, 5233–5251.Google Scholar
  31. Jones, C. (2002). Signaling expertise: How signals shape careers in creative industries. In M. Peiperl, M. Bernard, & A. Anand (Eds.), Career creativity: Explorations in the remaking of work (pp. 209–228). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Khamis, S., Ang, L., & Welling, R. (2016). Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of social media influencers. Celebrity Studies, 1–18.
  33. Lam, B. (2015, August 7). Why ‘do what you love’ is pernicious advice. The Atlantic. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  34. Lennard, O. (2015, January 30). How to really be a YouTube star: Be white and wealthy. The Independent. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  35. Lobato, R. (2016). The cultural logic of digital intermediaries: YouTube multichannel networks. Convergence, 22(4), 348–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Luckman, S. (2015). Women’s micro-entrepreneurial homeworking: A ‘magical solution’ to the work–life relationship? Australian Feminist Studies, 30(84), 146–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marwick, A. E. (2013). Status update: Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age. Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Marwick, A. (2015). Instafame: Luxury selfies in the attention economy. Public Culture, 27(1), 137–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Marwick, A. E. (2016). You may know me from YouTube: (Micro-) celebrity in social media. In P. D. Marshall & S. Redmond (Eds.), A companion to celebrity (pp. 333–350). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  40. Marwick, A. E., & Boyd, D. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mayer, V., & Horner, J. (2016). Student media labor in the digital age: MediaNOLA in the classroom and the university. In R. Maxwell (Ed.), The Routledge companion to labor and media (pp. 242–251). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Oakley, K. (2009). ‘Art works’—Cultural labour markets: A literature review. London: Creativity, Culture and Education.Google Scholar
  43. Patel, K. (2016). Cultural labour, social media and expertise, the experiences of female artists. Presented at ECREA, Prague, 12 November 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  44. Patel, K. (2017). Expertise and collaboration: Cultural workers’ performance on social media. In J. Graham & A. Gandini (Eds.), Collaborative production in the creative industries (pp. 157–176). London: University of Westminster Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Postigo, H. (2016). The socio-technical architecture of digital labour: Converting play into YouTube money. New Media & Society, 18(2), 332–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Prince, R. (2010). ‘Fleshing out’ expertise: The making of creative industries experts in the United Kingdom. Geoforum, 41(6), 875–884.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Samuelson, K. (2014, December 26). 25 vloggers under 25 who are owning the world of YouTube. Huffington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  48. Schudson, M. (2006). The trouble with experts—And why democracies need them. Theory and Society, 35(5–6), 491–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Senft, T. (2008). Camgirls: Celebrity and community in the age of social networks. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  50. Senft, T. M. (2013). Microcelebrity and the branded self. In J. Hartley, J. Burgess, & A. Bruns (Eds.), A companion to new media dynamics (pp. 346–354). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  52. Singh Chawla, D. (2014, September 28). The young vloggers and their fans who are changing the face of youth culture. The Guardian, 28 September. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  53. Solon, O. (2016, March 15). How to vlog your way to a million pounds. Glamour. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  54. Tambling, P. (2015, March 20). Freelancing and the future of creative jobs. Creative and Cultural Skills, Building a Creative Nation blog. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  55. Taylor, S. (2015). A new mystique? Working for yourself in the neoliberal economy. The Sociological Review, 63(S1), 174–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Throsby, D., & Zednik, A. (2011). Multiple job-holding and artistic careers: Some empirical evidence. Cultural Trends, 20(1), 9–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Turner, S. (2001). What is the problem with experts? Social Studies of Science, 31(1), 123–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. van Dijck, J. (2013). ‘You have one identity’: Performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture & Society, 35(2), 199–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vlog Nation. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  60. Williamson, M. (2016). Celebrity: Capitalism and the making of fame. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  61. YouTube Creator Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2016, from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Ashton
    • 1
  • Karen Patel
    • 2
  1. 1.Winchester School of ArtUniversity of SouthamptonWinchesterUK
  2. 2.School of MediaBirmingham City UniversityBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations