The Next Big Thing? – Exclusive Interview with Danisnotonfire
Dan Howell is a London-based, 21 year old YouTube vlogger and has become something of an internet sensation. When watching his videos, you can’t help but like him. His YouTube channel – Danisnotonfire – has nearly 600,000 subscribers from around the world and his video creations have been viewed an astounding 45 million times. What’s more, from January 2013, Dan is set to become the new presenter for BBC Radio 1’s Request Show.
Resident Be More ‘next big thing’ hunter, Alex Perry, talked to Dan about the benefits of having a YouTube channel, his future at BBC Radio 1 and his favourite fairground ride…
In this exact moment, what’s the first word that comes into your head?
Spatula. I’m not sure why. I suppose it’s quite a beautiful word in many ways.
What was it that made you launch your own YouTube channel in the first place?
I decided to start making YouTube videos having watched other YouTubers for nearly three years and feeling like I wanted to do something creative and join in this community!
What do you think are the components that make YouTubers and their videos so popular? Is there anything that YouTubers have in common?
I think it’s the relate-ability. People feel like they have a personal connection with another person who is just talking to them, which makes it so much more sincere than TV! And whilst we are all in the same situation, there is an incredible variety of different content that is made by all kinds of people on YouTube. It’s very diverse.
Which of your videos did you most enjoy creating and why?
All my collaborative videos were great fun to film! But I have to say technically ‘Innuendo Bingo’ was the most fun to “make” and ‘Sexy Internet Dating‘ because I was crying laughing for about two hours while filming it. ‘What not to do at the Cinema’ is what I always say is an example of perfectly executing an idea I had though! That’s a good’n.
Do you think that Danisnotonfire has a shelf life? How long do you see yourself doing it for?
The thing with YouTube is that it’s completely under the creator’s control. If I wanted to stop the kind of videos I’m making now and start reviewing breeds of cats, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea, but I could if I wanted to! It’s very free so people can decide what they want to do and why. I am still full of ideas so I personally feel that danisnotonfire isn’t even halfway done, but my friends and I are placing bets on when I’ll have a YouTube meltdown. I give it one to two years.
How successful has the launch of your own product range been? Will you be creating any other products off the back of Danisnotonfire?
Every YouTuber sells some kind of merchandise. In fact for many months I didn’t, until my own followers were hounding me to make t-shirts, as they genuinely want to either have a piece of this person for themselves or support them! I’ve also recently started selling ‘Llama hats’ that were inspired by a running joke. For me it’s more about making cool things that people will enjoy for their uniqueness.
The world is about to end and you get to eat one more meal – what would it be?
Vegetarian Indian food. I am the world’s biggest carnivore but you have not lived until you have experienced the explosion in your mouth… of flavour.
What sort of business opportunities have arisen from the success of Danisnotonfire?
Firstly my work on YouTube caught the attention of producers at BBC Radio 1, which led to me creating a two hour show for them on Christmas day which eventually led to last week, when I was offered the job as the new DJ of the request show! I have worked with a few brands over the years, to which every YouTuber has their own rules as to what they will / won’t do, but I have worked with people like Microsoft who flew me to L.A to vlog from E3, and Sanyo, who sent me to Jamaica to test a camera. In addition to this I also sell merchandise and occasionally assist internet start-ups to gain users.
A BBC Radio 1 presenter? Wow. What do you think will be the best thing about that?
Mainly trying something new! I have done presenter-type work before but never regularly for something I have a lot of creative input on. So I think it’ll be fantastic. That and the fact I will be broadcasting myself to an almost completely difference audience to my YouTube channel, which is exciting.
What do you enjoy most about running Danisnotonfire?
What I enjoy the most is either just creating something that I think is good and the satisfying process of an idea turning into a finished video, or when people tell me that something I’ve said (or my videos in general) have inspired them to think differently, or have helped them through a tough time. All I try to do is ‘make good YouTube videos’ so when people send me emails to say thank you, it really motivates me to keep going.
What’s your favourite fairground ride and why?
I’m going to be lame and say the Ferris Wheel. Most of them involve a lot of fast-rotating and that just makes me sick (I’d rather go on Colossus than a tea cup ride), so sometimes it’s nice to just relax for a bit and enjoy the view!