“Who are you? Answer; you are who you are in this given moment. Label-less. Limitless. Remember that from this day forward.” ― Connor Franta
Times they are a changing, at an ever accelerated pace. It’s no longer always possible to have the same job for life. With that comes a unique set of challenges, but also previously never imagined opportunities. We can work from home, have office space abroad, freelance, and our side projects can have side gigs. The brave are taking advantage of posting original content on established platforms, and trying to build their own followers within an audience of hundreds of millions. Some are becoming something brand new, a YouTube star. For some conquering YouTube is just the beginning.
Social media platforms aren’t just about selfies, likes, and self-promotion but about fostering a new atmosphere for creativity, exploration, interaction, and community. Connor Franta is one of the kings of the realm.
I bought a Connor Franta book legit not knowing who he was. It was a millennial pink covered collection of essays interspersed with snippets of poetry and beautiful photography, a random impulse purchase that I put on my bookshelf and quickly forgot about. Then while watching a Netflix movie, I happened to see in the credits, executive produced by Connor Franta. I picked up his book Note to Self, wondering, who is this person?
From small town Minnesota, Franta was 13 when he first stumbled upon YouTube. By 2010 he was an aspiring Youtuber. In college studying business, he could only foresee ending up in a cubicle somewhere. In the meantime he built up enough followers to convince his parents it was a good idea for him to drop out of school and try to make YouTube into a career. The channel of lifestyle and comedy videos he built from scratch blossomed, and he became a social media star and influencer across multiple platforms.
The vlogger knew his social currency would only take him so far. The content creator and People’s Choice Award Favorite YouTube Star winner, wanted staying power. He knew he needed to expand his brand beyond YouTube, and focus his many passions on brand building, and entrepreneurship.
He founded the lifestyle company Common Culture that started out selling coffee, and has branched into apparel that Franta designs. He explained to Entrepreneur magazine, “I feel like there’s a lot more longevity that way. The ideal goal would be to make Common Culture a name brand that is omnipresent and sells on its own, where no one even knows or cares that I had anything to do with it.”
Curating music compilations led him to also start a record label, Heard Well. In an interview he explained how his large social media audience helped him launch the music company. “We have an audience of people who want to know what we’re interested in, so it makes total sense that we’re using our marketing in a way that monetizes the product for all involved in a beneficial way. Once I have a compilation together, I tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it and YouTube — video it — and that reaches more than 20 million people. It’s an amazing promotion for everyone involved.”
Self-expression and learning how to love his authentic self is an important aspect of his life, and he is an important voice and inspiration in the LGBTQ community. At the age of 21 he came out in a YouTube video that went viral. Franta said of the experience, “Authenticity is key, especially in this day and age, where people really want to see the real you and the real intentions behind everything.” In an interview with Out magazine he reflected, “My coming out video’s probably single-handedly the best thing I’ve ever done with my career, and may be the best thing I ever do with my career because of its large impact and lasting impact. I still have people come up to me to this day and say it helped them a lot, which is so humbling.”
Connor Franta finds his purpose being productive, creatively satisfied, and authentic. He finds fulfillment in pursing his passions which include clothing, design, and business. He is also a bestselling author, his first book was the memoir A Work in Progress.
And he’s only in his mid-twenties!
By becoming a YouTube vlogger, Connor Franta helped create something that didn’t previously exist, a career as a social media star. The experience of building up an audience of millions gave him the confidence to experiment and see what else he could build. He is a pioneer in developing a culture within digital mediums.
Connor Franta executed his intuition and made his name by posting personal videos. Now he wants to go beyond his social media base to being successful by letting the brand he builds do the selling. I think he would be happy that I bought his product without having a clue who he was.
Author Bio: Tara Collum
Tara Collum lives in Toronto and grew up in Muskoka. She is the volunteer social media coordinator for the Death Row Support Project @COB_DRSP and co-writes a web serial at splitsvilleblog.wordpress.com. She is all about tea, books, mumblecore, music, long walks, and self-improvement. Follow Tara on twitter @99percentsun
- Note to Self by Connor Franta. Keywords Press, 2017