'We became YouTube stars in our 40s' Two empowering women reveal how they became internet sensations

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Two empowering women tell GoodToKnow how they took YouTube by storm, proving it’s not just for youngsters.

Director of YogaBellies, Cheryl MacDonald

When I was made redundant from my job as a business analyst in December 2009, just six weeks after giving birth, I had to think about what I wanted to do next. Truth be told, I had never loved my old job – to me it was just something that had helped pay the bills. But yoga was something I’d always enjoyed and, since I’d already qualified as a teacher, I was starting to wonder if I could make a career out of it.

Credit: Cheryl MacDonald

My husband, Mike, agreed to help me convert our spare bedroom into a yoga studio and I started running free classes for my friends and mothers-to-be, around Caelen’s nap times. Soon I was running out of space to fit all my clients in, and business boomed when I gained a further qualification in 2014, which meant I could write my own course to train new yoga teachers, too.

Then in early 2017 Mike and I took the business on Dragons’ Den in a bid to expand further. Soon after, I was inundated with requests to post my yoga videos online, and was invited to appear on This Morning. I realised that this was the perfect opportunity to expand my fan base, and began uploading more and more yoga clips to my YouTube channel. All the content was a free taster for anyone to try, with the hopes that they’d become interested enough to commit to classes.

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Since then, our YouTube following and business has only gone from strength to strength. We make money from the adverts on our channel and by people paying for our classes. I even have celebrity clients like Kimberley Walsh (opens in new tab) from Girls Aloud and Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley.

If you’d have told me that, at 41, I’d have an award‑winning business with more than 15,000 followers and more than 3,000 subscribers, I’d have thought it impossible. I truly believe that yoga is for everyone – and, as far as I’m concerned, YouTube can be for everyone, too. Though it was never part of the plan, I now can’t imagine my business without it. It’s enhanced it in ways I never thought possible and I’d encourage anyone to give it a try. Who knows what it could do for you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbWARulqin8

Cheryl's top tips

  1. Make sure your channel is consistent with your brand and matches your social media, so that clients can easily recognise it.
  2. Ask your viewers what kind of content they want to see and keep an eye on the analytics to see what’s most popular.
  3. Don’t feel you have to buy fancy equipment – your iPhone and built-in mic may well do the trick.

Health and beauty journalist, Nadine Baggott

I’ve always loved writing about health and beauty, that’s why it’s been my job for more than 30 years, working on just about every media platform you can think of. Weekly newspapers, monthly women’s magazines, TV and radio – I’ve done the lot. But I’d never thought about YouTube until a friend of mine suggested I start a channel about beauty, back in 2013.

Credit: Nadine Baggott/Elisabeth Hoff

At first, I wasn’t sure. I reasoned that there were already plenty of twenty-somethings uploading the kind of content I specialised in, and as I was now over 50, I couldn’t see anyone subscribing to my channel instead. But over the next two years, it was clear that more and more people were looking to sites like YouTube for beauty (opens in new tab) tips. So, while I continued to freelance and write for traditional types of media, I also purchased the equipment I’d need to film my own videos to share online.

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I posted my first make-up and skincare (opens in new tab) tutorials in July 2015, and by the end of my first year, I had more than 10,000 subscribers to my channel. Since then, it’s grown exponentially, and across social media I now have more than 300,000 followers. To me, it all still feels like a whirlwind. I try to upload a minimum of two videos a week, and try to cover as many bases as possible. One day, I could be doing a make-up tutorial and the next I could be showing you what this week’s best budget-buy is. And I try to bring in as many experts as I can so that they can share their professional secrets, too.

Now I make my living from sponsored posts, adverts on my videos, and I’m still writing, too. It’s certainly not an easy job and I don’t think there’s a single day in the week when I’m not planning, editing or creating new content for my channel or Instagram account. But I’ve always been a career girl and, actually, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

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Even though my partner, David, cheekily jokes that I’m the oldest influencer out there, which of course isn’t true, I wouldn’t change my job for the world. So long as my viewers get genuine advice and help from my channel, and walk away knowing they can look and feel great at any age, then I consider that a job well done.

Nadine's top tips

  1. You can learn as you go, so don’t wait until your first piece of content is perfect – just start now!
  2. Stay authentic to you, follow your passion and follow your own voice.
  3. Don’t go into it for the money, as it could take a while to make a living. If it’s something you’re interested in, then other women will be, too.
I’m Emma, a features writer for some of the nation's most popular women's magazines. Think Woman, Woman’s Own and Chat Magazine. Now I’m expanding my remit and contributing regularly to GoodToKnow – aren’t you excited? I’m a recent graduate from the University of Portsmouth where I obtained a first class degree and my gold standard NCTJ diploma. Since then I’ve worked exclusively in magazines starting on a luxury travel mag based in Dubai. (Though I worked from my sofa in Kent, so it was slightly less glam than you might imagine.) In 2018, I started working with TI Media and it’s been amazing to finally see my name in print. Outside of work I enjoy the arts. I freelance for the theatre section of EntertainmentFocus.com and when I’m not writing I’m attending multiple dance lessons. Aside from writing and performing (a generous term perhaps, but just roll with it) you can find me binging the latest series’ on Netflix, fan-girling over the latest Marvel movie or planning my next trip abroad. That’s pretty much all you need to know about me, but if you’d like to know any more you can get a peek behind the curtain by following me on Twitter or Instagram.