Unlocked is a series where creators discuss the strategy behind their success in order to help new creators find their own success more quickly.
In this installment of Unlocked, we catch up with Julz Goddard (AKA YesJulz) to discuss her beginnings on Snapchat, finding creative ways to develop exclusive content for brands, and the importance of integrity to an engaged audience.
Julz Goddard is proof that when you encounter a wall, sometimes the best solution is to break right through it.
At the beginning of her now-massive career, Julz was working to develop a marketing agency while she traveled around for hosting gigs. Through events, her daily life consisted of her coming across countless celebrities, and she knew she needed to find a way to document it. She found herself meeting with different studios about potentially having her own television series, but all the ideas presented did not quite fit with what she had envisioned for herself; Julz wanted to have creative control over her own show and had no interest in building a brand based on someone else’s vision. Soon after, almost serendipitously, Snapchat announced the Stories feature, and if you follow YesJulz on the platform, you know that the rest is history.
In what can only be described as her own, modern-day version of The Truman Show, Julz moved away from studio meetings, and started to establish her own broadcast network on Snapchat. She began to build her audience by word-of-mouth referrals; at first it was just her friends and family tuning in on Snapchat to see the extent of her work days, then fans from other platforms migrated over, following YesJulz in order to see if their questions for the budding entrepreneur would be answered. The next frontier of the aptly-named Director of Vibes’ Snapchat domination, brand integration, was more gradual. However, once brands saw value in Snapchat, attempting to tap into its influential users was not far off. Now, Julz is traveling the world Snapchatting for brands like Beats By Dre, Red Bull, and Kith.
As companies reached out to market their brand to Julz’s Snapchat audience, she began to recognize the opportunity to optimize these relationships. Instead of working with every brand that made an offer, Julz settled on creating exclusive content for one brand representing a specific vertical, such as Nike for athletic wear, in exchange for a retainer contract. This allowed her integrate brands she already admired into her Snapchat strategy, and due to her organically-built fanbase, she was able to leverage her highly-engaged following to achieve different deals while maintaining the integrity of her tastes.
“It’s very organic… I think there’s enough things in life that happen organically to where we as influencers don’t have to go outside of what we’re comfortable with, or what’s in our everyday routine,” says Julz.
“People who follow me, they believe in me and they actually care. It’s crazy and weird, but it’s also kind of cool and fulfilling, and I would never want to break their trust… The minute you stop being authentic, they’ll know.”
To continue to further her reach, Julz relied heavily on developing unique, platform-specific content. This began with ‘Mail Time,’ her own unboxing program where Julz virtually invited fans into her home when the mail arrived, showcasing the products her brand partners sent to her that day.
“It’s about creating something cute and fun and niche. Like, some people draw, some people have airport skits, like Shonduras… I have Mail Time. I have FDR Mondays, #RoadToYonce, and #NeverNotWorking. There’s these taglines that people can trace back, and people are now sending me stuff more and more,” says Julz. “Now, they’re are offering to pay me to feature their mail in my Mail Time, or feature their song in my Snaps… Record labels or A&Rs are going elsewhere and going to people like me to make music cool in a certain market… There’s so many creative ways that you can go about things these days with these platforms. It’s really like a trampoline into something larger, greater and more long-term.”
How Julz chooses brands to partner with applies to how she selects artists to feature as well: the product, or rather, the music, must be good and true to her tastes. Approaching features with a selective lens is not unfounded, but a true strategy that creates more demand for a coveted YesJulz cosign. A given Snap on her channel will earn 170,000 views from engaged, hungry users. With one Snap, a brand’s product or artist’s song can easily see higher conversion, more streams, increased share of voice around a certain topic, or simply, greater brand lift. By being selective, Julz grows her audience’s trust and engagement while attracting quality partners who are hoping to be a part of her social conversation.
As Julz’s Snapchat empire grows, her advice to aspiring content creators and marketing aficionados is to remain true to yourself, and find your niche.
“I think the most important advice, and a big reason why I started using Snapchat to begin with, is just be yourself. It’s cool to be inspired, but it’s important to not lose yourself and try to become someone else and keep up with the Joneses. Believe in your journey, believe in your path, be determined… What you’re doing on social media’s not going to go anywhere if you don’t do anything in real life. You have to put in the work in real life, you have to create in real life and then happen to catch the moment in real life… Keep putting out content, keep putting out blogs, keep putting out videos, and if they’re good, someone’s going to notice.”
Learn more about YesJulz here.
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