When Steinhardt sophomore Lena Yeo first picked up her iPhone and started filming in her dorm room at the end of her first year at NYU, she had no expectation that her YouTube channel, LenaLifts, would become the enthusiastic community it is today. Yeo’s channel has grown rapidly over the last few months, garnering over 17,000 subscribers and thousands of views per video. Her channel features content revolving around her NYU experience, health-related videos such as workouts, healthy meal ideas and informal vlogs detailing her day-to-day life.
Yeo’s initial vision for her channel stemmed from her interest in fitness, but she quickly realized that she could share many other facets of her identity with her audience. In fact, her videos about life as an NYU student sparked the most interest among her subscribers.
“My intention with fitness was to encourage people to start living a healthy lifestyle but my channel transitioned to more lifestyle in general, not just fitness,” Yeo said. “Then I noticed that people love NYU and want to know more about my life at NYU.”
Indeed, one of Yeo’s most popular videos to date — with 126,000 views — is titled “SPILLING ALL THE TEA ON NYU || hookups, parties, dorms, drama??”. In it, she and a friend discuss their university lives and offer advice to potential students. However, though Yeo recognizes the popularity of her college-related videos, she hopes to branch out and pursue more of her own creative visions.
“The feedback I get from my subscribers motivates me,” she said. “I would have quit a long time ago, but it just really feels like a family on my channel. I try to produce the content they want to see, but I also need to remember to produce the content I want too.”
Getting started was tough for Yeo — she initially received only one or two views per video. However, with tremendous support from her friends and constant reminders to herself that she truly enjoyed YouTubing, Yeo was able to keep producing videos, especially since she had more time over the summer. Though her parents did not understand what being a YouTuber meant at first, they cheered her on as her channel grew.
“I was actually shocked about my parents being super supportive because they weren’t always supportive of things I chose to do in the past, career-wise,” Yeo said. “But when I started to see growth on my channel, my parents watch every single video of mine and tell all their family back in Korea about it.”
Rather than her subscriber count, Yeo is most proud about the community she has fostered through her channel. She hopes to create a platform where her viewers feel welcome; by constantly engaging with the comments section of her videos, she feels more connected to her audience.
“I want a positive community, people who uplift each other. I love seeing in my comments people encouraging each other,” Yeo said. “Seeing people comment and seeing the same names, it feels like a genuine friendship. I never expected my channel to grow this fast but I also never expected the engagement to be so genuine.”
Motivated by her close friends and family, as well as her viewers, Yeo plans to continue expanding her channel.
“I don’t see it as my full career but I definitely see myself still vlogging, showing workouts and giving advice,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone to live a happy, healthy, fit lifestyle.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 18th, 2019 print edition. Email Chelsea Li at [email protected]