Emerge Magazine 2017
Photo by Drew Yorke-Slader/EMERGE

Living for Likes Part Two

It’s important to build your own brand,” said Rachel David, owner of Hashtag Communications.

David, who runs a successful influencer marketing business, gave a presentation at the Emerge Media Conference discussing how she used social media to launch her career.

Before achieving success, David said she went through a time not knowing where to go or what to do in life. Her mindset of “working hard and seeing the results” did not guarantee a career in media. With television and radio broadcasting ratings going down, “I had to come to terms with the truth,” David said.

A visit to the United States  opened David’s mind when she noticed how many YouTube and social media personalities were making a name for themselves. Rather than traditional celebrities, “I saw all these YouTubers like Superwoman (a.k.a. Lily Singh) on huge billboards,” she said.

David made up her mind that, at 25, she would take a risk and take a year off to find her calling. She decided to learn everything she could about social media and YouTube.

“I sat in my bed and watched YouTube tutorials,” David said. “For six months I had no money.” She found the YouTube Creator Academy incredibly helpful. She started networking and becoming friends with some of the most knowledgeable influencers in the industry who would soon help her to build her own brand.

“Eventually,” David said, she started “attracting some of the biggest YouTubers in the country.” She started collaborating with Canadian comedian Jasmeet Singh, known as JusReign. “It was like God put these people in my universe.”

She ended up signing with the “Full Screen” network where she was given an opportunity for six months to do a comedy for the CBC. “The only reason I got that was because I had a YouTube channel.”

Although her career was starting to pick up, David stressed that she “was fully intending on making zero dollars.”

But. after gaining popularity on YouTube, she started to notice what she calls a “missing link” between creators and the business side. That’s when her big idea came along.

“I wanted to start my own business and treat people fair,” David said. She began experimenting with content that included brands. “I did this kind of content brand thing and I ended up getting a few more brand deals.” Essentially, she said “I started [the] business” that became Hashtag Communications.

“I never thought I would ever be in business,” David said, but within six to eight months, she had made up her lost salary.

Looking back on her past struggles, David said, “I feel like a strong woman now, like my mind matters.” David told her Emerge conference audience to keep in mind the importance of learning “the things that not everyone knows.” “Learn about Facebook ads, Google ads, all the things that the old white men in suits don’t know, there’s no training for that,” she said.

She also noted that “people are everything”. This, David said, is one of the main reasons for her success. Communicating and networking are usually something that many people fear, but David told her audience to not “be afraid of competition.  Treat people well and [they] will come back.”

If you’re going through a difficult period, David suggested taking time to figure out what it is you want to do and find your “why.”

“I want creators to be able to make enough money to stay in Toronto and work on amazing brand campaigns they care about,” she said. “Once I figured out my “why,” it became quite easy.”

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Leyah Mirza

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Leyah is a writer from Toronto whose passions include inspiring others and consuming lots of chocolate.

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