How Natalie became Australia's queen of YouTube
Oz YouTube queen Natalie Tran
Natalie Tran, 22, is the most subscribed YouTube user in Australia and ranks 37th in the world. Watch one of her videos.
February 4, 2009 - 12:47PM
From her parents' home in western Sydney, Natalie Tran, Australia's queen of YouTube, has proven time and again that titillation is not a prerequisite to internet fame.
With more than 150,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, Tran, 22, is easily the most subscribed YouTube user in Australia, while globally she ranks 37th.
The 118 videos she's created over two years have amassed 64 million views, making her also the most viewed Australian YouTube user of all time - more popular on the site than even AC/DC, whose videos have attracted 53 million views.
But while some female web stars such as Obama Girl have used their sexuality to amass scores of drooling fanboys, Tran has eschewed titillation in favour of comedic skits about her everyday life.
"I think that to have longevity on these kind of websites you need to offer something different ... there's plenty of [sexual] material on the internet that would provide that kind of entertainment already," she said.
For instance, her most recent skit riffs on the poor quality voice recognition services many companies use to answer their phones and provides funny tips on how to bypass them.
In another, Tran talks about the irrational fears that people have, such as: "When I kill an insect I'm really conscious that there's another one in the room that's probably seen that massacre go down and it's probably going to try and find me as well as my family."
The comedic value is in Tran's satirical re-enactments of the situations she is talking about and the fact that she plays all of the characters.
Tran said the skits were all based on things that happened in her day, "just a little bit exaggerated for comedy purposes".
"They're not huge deep and meaningful videos, they're just short snippets that are meant to be a little bit of fun in somebody's lunch break ... the world wouldn't be a worse place without them," she said.
Tran publishes a new video every two to three days, each taking about four hours to make, including writing, filming, editing and uploading.
Outside of that she said she spends an hour at night replying to the hundreds of messages she receives each day from fans.
Also unlike many internet celebrities, Tran has never courted fame, regularly turning down TV shows and journalists who are more interested in poking fun at the whacky world of YouTube than seriously examining its place in the new digital media world.
She works in retail on and off while studying digital media at the University of NSW, but says most of her classmates don't know of her YouTube fame.
Tran said she had been approached by numerous companies seeking to sponsor her videos or pay for an endorsement but she decided against heading down that path, fearful it would put viewers offside.
"It [sponsorship money] is very tempting but it's not really what I'm looking for - I've spent a long time creating something and I don't want to give that up," she said.
While she earns a modest income from YouTube's Partner Program - which gives a small percentage of ad revenue to the site's most popular users - Tran said money and fame did not concern her.
She was more interested in practically applying her digital media studies to learn "the science behind" making content that builds and sustains audiences online.
"I don't think internet fame holds very much in the real world," she said.
Witty and funny. I'm hooked.