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This Irish YouTuber went from 2,500 to 1.5 million subs in the space of a year

And it’s the most subscribed Irish YouTube channel out there.

Image: jacksepticeye/YouTube

WITH MORE THAN 100 hours of footage uploaded onto the site every hour, getting noticed on YouTube, let alone becoming popular, is a difficult task.

While most people upload videos just for fun, more and more people have been able to make a living from the site and there are quite a number of them based in Ireland.

While there are a number of them out there, the biggest channel here is one called JackSepticEye, a gaming channel run by Sean McLoughlin, a 24-year-old who is based in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Uploading edited versions of games he plays, the over the top presentation and rapid pace has seen his channel pass the 1.5 million subscribers mark, making it the most subscribed YouTube channel in Ireland, and has received 381 million views so far.

Considering that he only had 2,500 subscribers back in September 2013, it’s a significant jump.

Source: jacksepticeye/YouTube

When you watch his channel for the first time, the first thing you would immediately notice is the presentation. It’s high-energy, tightly edited, and the humour is silly, but the intro may cause you to groan a little.

Sporting a paddy cap, McLoughlin kicks off each video with a high five and a “Top of the morning to ya, laddies” greeting. While it may be a tired stereotype, there is a good reason behind it.

“Some people said I started to sound too American which wasn’t a conscious decision. I tried to speak clearly because I knew if I tried to talk like an Irish person all the time, nobody would understand me,” explains McLoughlin. “So I thought “What’s the most stereotypical thing people can think of worldwide.”

I think when I was recording GTA V in September, I was like “Right, I need something to start off the video” so I just did a high five and it just started out of nowhere. The same with the ‘Top of the morning’ and the cap, it was a really conscious, stereotypical thing to do which was just to drive home the fact that “Oh, he’s Irish”. You know in the first five seconds what the channel is about: a really loud Irish person.

While he does begin his videos in a stereotypical manner, he’s ultimately concerned about the authenticity of his work, that he actually enjoys the games he plays and his audience enjoys it as well. The intro might be pre-planned but his reactions to what he’s playing – a mixture of both conventional and weird titles – are genuine.

Source: jacksepticeye/YouTube

If you heard that someone’s job is playing video games, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be an easy job. 

While McLoughlin is able to make a living from it, the fact that it’s a full-time job means he, unsurprisingly, dedicates most of his day to it.

On average, he uploads two videos every day, ranging from 6 – 15 minutes depending on the game. For that, he would spend roughly two hours playing games during the evening time.

That’s the easy part.

During the morning, he would start editing the video down. How much editing is needed and the time it takes really depends on the type of game he’s playing.

When that’s done and the video is rendering, he will spend roughly three to four hours of his time answering comments before heading back to the videos and uploading them, designing the thumbnails, and any other details before they’re released. And then during the evening, he plays the games that will be uploaded the next day, where the process starts all over again.

It’s a process that’s been going on for more than a year and it means McLoughlin approaches the channel on a day-by-day basis because, if nothing else, he says his voice alone wouldn’t be able to keep up if he did any more.

While McLoughlin had started uploading videos in November 2012, it wasn’t really until September 2013 that his channel gathered momentum.

Originally, McLoughlin saw other gamers posting Let’s Play videos (a playthrough of a specific videogame) and wanted to make some himself. Since he liked games and wanted an excuse to learn how to edit videos – he was studying audio engineering in Limerick at the time – it was an obvious decision, but it took a lot of time and videos before he gained a following.

The turning point was a shoutout competition run by PewDiePie (one of the biggest YouTube gaming stars out there) and out of the thousands who entered, McLoughlin’s channel was one of the ten channels picked.

At the time, his channel had roughly 2,500 subscribers before shooting up to 15,000 within the space of four days. While it was a stroke of good luck, McLoughlin made sure he made the most of it.

“I always say that PewDiePie['s shoutout] was turning on the engine and I was the one who hit the accelerator,” he says. “I made that ball keep on rolling and if you’re consistent and you’re frequent, they latch onto you. They saw that I was commenting and talking to people a lot so they felt more at home on my channel.” 

If there’s one thing McLoughlin prioritises above everything else, it’s making his audience feel included.

While the three to four hour figure given might sound like an overestimate, it’s something that’s apparent when you check the comments or Twitter (in one recent video, he mentioned he was taking a day off from recording to rest, to which the responses were mostly positive).

That effort comes from what he describes as a “distaste” from seeing how distant some other YouTubers become after gaining a following, a trap McLoughlin didn’t want to fall into.

“One of the main things I wanted to do on YouTube is to keep people together,” explains McLoughlin. “All YouTubers do it at the start, they interact with their fans, they write to them and then when they get to a certain size, they realise they can’t reply to everybody so they stop replying to anybody, which is not what I wanted to do.”

I can’t reply to everybody, but that’s no reason to reply to no one. I always try to reply to people every day just so that people know that I’m an actual person behind the camera and I’m not just some kind of machine making videos or some business entity trying to sell content. I want to be as honest and as transparent as I can possibly be.

Source: jacksepticeye/YouTube

As for the future, there’s a realistic possibility that the channel may hit the two million subscribers mark by the end of the year.

McLoughlin is planning to put that to good use by playing live streams of games for charities, once he frees up more time. And while he’s looking towards increasing the number of people viewing and subscribing to his content, there’s also another ambition.

“Hopefully I can go to events in Europe and America next year and meet people face-to-face,” says McLoughlin. “I can interact with them through a keyboard every day, but I really want to meet people in real life.”

And for those wanting to follow in his footsteps, he has this advice: make sure fun is the main priority and you’re making them for yourself. Also, be prepared to work hard as “people really underestimate the amount of time it takes to make a YouTube video.”

Read: These Irish brothers have turned playing Minecraft into a full-time job >

Read: This 8-year-old makes $1.3 million a year by posting YouTube videos >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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