Cloe Feldman, 22, is a popular YouTube creator with over 6 million subscribers, known as CloeCouture online.
Feldman launched her YouTube channel when she was 14 years old, and since then, she has treated it like a job, earning money through the ads that play in her videos and through sponsorships.
But Feldman, who announced on Feb. 13 that she would be taking a permanent step back from YouTube, will instead be focusing on developing a career in music going forward.
Business Insider spoke to Feldman about her career switch, and she said that as she grew up, she felt she was working more on growing the character CloeCouture, who wore glittery crowns and lived in a fantasy world, than her actual self.
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Cloe Feldman uploaded her first video to YouTube when she was 14 years old.
YouTube was her creative outlet. She filmed makeup tutorials on a flip camera propped up on a tall stack of books, and to focus in on her eyes as she did her eye shadow and mascara, she held a magnifying glass over the camera lens.
“I kind of found YouTube videos as this outlet and vessel for me to feel like I had these friends,” Feldman told Business Insider. “I would watch these YouTubers and feel so connected to them. I just knew that it was something that I really wanted to do.”
She filmed fashion videos, back-to-school outfit ideas, and makeup tutorials (this DIY eyeliner video was her video to go viral, she said). For two years, she kept YouTube a secret from her friends at school, and at the time she had around 200,000 subscribers.
But eventually YouTube started to become more serious for her once she started traveling and going to events like Playlist Live or the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show (IMATs), she said. And at 22, Feldman is now one of the platform’s top stars, having amassed over 6 million subscribers on her main channel, CloeCouture.
But as Feldman grew up, she worked more on growing the character CloeCouture, who wore glittery crowns and lived in a fantasy world, than her actual self, she said. And now she’s calling it quits. She announced in a YouTube video on Feb. 13 that she would be taking a permanent step back from YouTube — after 9 years — to focus on a new career in music.
Business Insider spoke to Feldman about her journey on YouTube and why she’s decided to leave the platform.
The path to viral fame on YouTube
Feldman steadily grew her CloeCouture business through high school. During the week, she would focus on school, and on the weekend, she would work on YouTube.
Looking back at her old YouTube videos, Feldman said she was surprised by how little she shared of her actual life. When she was in high school, she said she made it seem like her life was so carefree on YouTube, when in reality she was enrolled in all AP classes and held positions in several clubs — she described herself as an intense student.
“I think that’s something my YouTube channel didn’t know, and it would bring me so much stress all the time,” she said. “Just balancing being a really hard-working student, and also having a full-time job I was running alone.”
She remembers filming a “morning routine” video one summer in high school, where she appears to spend her morning waking up late, lounging around, and hanging out by the pool.
“I remember before filming that video I was volunteering at a hospital all summer,” she said. “I got off my shift at the hospital and went and made that video and pretended like my life was perfect.”
At 18, Feldman moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles. Shortly after attending, she left UCLA to focus on YouTube full time.
Eventually, Feldman said she hired a producer who help out with the videos, along with several video editors, someone to make her thumbnail images, a camera person, an assistant, an intern, and a business manager.
“It was a full company,” she said, but even so, she constantly got comments saying YouTube wasn’t a real job, and that she’s never worked a day in her life. “I just think it’s so crazy that people still see it that way.”
Why she decided to leave YouTube
At peak upload time, Feldman was posting content to her main channel (6 million subscribers) and vlog channel (900,000 subscribers) once every other day.
Her biggest seasons were summer and around Halloween. She’d jot down video ideas constantly and kept a long running list in the notes app of her iPhone, she said.
“I would make these crazy costume videos were I would put together hundreds of costumes,” she said. “I remember my apartment looked like Party City the entire month of October. I just don’t know how I did that.”
Why did Feldman ultimately decide to leave YouTube?
“I just honestly was so burnt out,” she said. “Having panic attacks and I think it just got to a breaking point.”
Many YouTube stars, like AlishaMarie, Casey Neistat, and PewDiePie have said they’ve suffered from burnout. For them, burnout means a feeling of exhaustion and lack of pride in the content they make, they told Insider. Like Feldman, many YouTube creators are often their own bosses, and are under pressure to stay relevant.
“I was working on growing my channel more than myself,” Feldman said. “I think that was a big thing I had to finally come to terms with when I took my break. I had put my own life on pause for so long.”
Ultimately, after thinking about it for more than a year, she decided to quit YouTube altogether.
But although Feldman won’t be posting content to YouTube, her videos will still be earning her money. Her popular videos gain millions of views on YouTube, and creators who are a part of Google’s Partner Program earn money from ads on their videos filtered by Google. She noted that she’s saved up a lot of money since starting her channel and that she’s never been a big spender.
“It was a really difficult decision and I think that my audience has been so amazing with their response,” she said.
Feldman said she has been working on an EP and that she expects to release music soon.
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