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Meet a Rotman alum who made YouTube her full-time career

Talking content creation, marketing with Caitlin Da Silva
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Caitlin Da Silva graduated from Rotman’s Commerce program in June. DINA DONG/THE VARSITY
Caitlin Da Silva graduated from Rotman’s Commerce program in June. DINA DONG/THE VARSITY

“Hello everyone! My name is Caitlin, and I’m here to introduce my new channel, Just Around the Corner,” is the introduction Caitlin Da Silva gave to her newly-minted YouTube channel on July 25, 2014.

Since that first video, Da Silva, a U of T graduate, has grown her channel to over 183,000 subscribers and her videos have been viewed over 15 million times. Her channel, now named “Caitlin’s Corner,” is a mix of vlogs, hauls, how-tos, and routine videos.

She’s now creating content on YouTube as her full-time job.

Living a double life

Da Silva enrolled as a Management Specialist in the Rotman Commerce program, with a focus in marketing, in 2015.

As Da Silva’s channel grew during her undergraduate career while she created vlogs about her life as a student, she noticed that more and more people recognized and approached her on campus.

“It’s cool running into people and hearing that these videos have… helped international students that maybe didn’t know anything about Toronto life or what it was like to be at U of T, [and the videos] helped them make their decision to come here,” said Da Silva in an interview with The Varsity.

She said that fellow Rotman students also approached her on campus and found comfort in knowing that they weren’t the only ones struggling with their courses.

“I think as students you often think that you’re alone in your suffering as we like to call it, but you know, everyone’s just trying to get through it,” Da Silva said.

As a student, she found that being a content creator was a practical approach to bridging what she was learning in her classes. In fact, Da Silva gave a presentation on her YouTube channel for one of her marketing classes.

“I got to use a lot of the stuff that I was doing on YouTube to help me not just… have an opportunity to talk in front of the class, but also just create ideas for projects or assignments,” she said.

On top of being a full-time student, Da Silva produced content for her YouTube channel and Instagram account on a regular basis.

Kin Community, a digital media company, helps Da Silva land brand sponsorships and negotiate fair deals with brands. She’s partnered with Crayola, Logitech, SiriusXM Canada, and the Toronto Star, to name a few.

“That was really helpful, especially during school, because there was only so much I could really take on, on my own,” she said.

On making a full-time career out of YouTube

After graduating in June, Da Silva decided to take the leap and produce content for YouTube full-time.

Most of Da Silva’s content has a student focus. Her digital note-taking video is the most viewed video on her channel, with over one million views, and her Woodsworth College Residence dorm tour video has been viewed over 600,000 times.

When asked whether her channel’s focus would shift post-graduation, Da Silva said, “Whatever is going on in my life is what the content is going to reflect.”

“That being said… I did my final big batch of back-to-school videos,” she said. “So next year, when [September] comes around, I don’t know if I’ll be doing it in the same way as I did those videos because I’m no longer a student.”

Now that she has graduated, she hopes to become more involved in the business aspect of her brand and explore new ways to create content.

While her career might sound “luxurious” to some, much of the content she produces requires extensive forethought and planning.

“I think the goal of a video is for it to look seamless,” she said. “But to get it to look like that, there’s usually a lot of work on the back end, so I think that’s what people still sometimes don’t see.”

For Da Silva, the goal is to create content that resonates with her audience while being true to herself.

“There’s different communities for everyone,” she said. “You just have to create what you like, and other people who like those things will come eventually.”

The potential for Canadian content on YouTube

There are around 160,000 content creators on YouTube based in Canada, and a quarter of them are eligible for YouTube’s Partner Program. The Partner Program allows eligible content creators to monetize their channel.

Even though the market for Canadian content creators is growing, The Canadian Press reported that YouTube’s “record for supporting Canadian content has been spotty.”

YouTube has launched Canada-specific initiatives like Encore+, which features content that is no longer aired on TV, and Creator on the Rise, a feature on YouTube’s trending page that highlights up-and-coming creators.

Yet initiatives like YouTube’s Spotlight Canada channel, which was launched in 2017 to highlight Canadian content, hasn’t been updated in 11 months. And in May, YouTube announced it would be closing its Toronto creator space, the only one of its kind in Canada. The space had opened in 2016.

While there may be a larger market for content creators in the United States, Da Silva doesn’t have plans to relocate any time soon.

“I’m really proud to be a Toronto content creator, and I think there are more and more voices coming out of this city,” said Da Silva. “My content is really focused on me and my life, and my life is ultimately here.”