Seize the moment! – stumbles and insights taught YouTuber Jaakko Parkkali how to create a successful career
Jaakko Parkkali is one of the most famous YouTube stars in Finland. His career as a YouTuber started from an idea of his best friend and has led him to success through failures and insight. Now Parkkali runs his own business.
School and Lahti-born Parkkali never really went hand in hand. The overall average grade of his comprehensive school leaving certificate was 6.0, enough to study metalwork in a vocational school, but Parkkali was not interested. Doors to commercial college did not open, but finally Parkkali got to study for a vocational qualification in business and administration at a vocational school.
In 2016, in his last year at school, 18-year-old Parkkali was thinking about his future while visiting a friend.
“My friend asked: ‘Do you know what YouTube is?’ Of course I did. My friend had made YouTube videos for a few years and had an idea. ‘Jaakko, you have good banter, and you were never good at school or really interested in anything. Let’s make your first video.’ So, we filmed a two-minute video with a lousy camera. That’s how everything started”, reminisces Jaakko Parkkali who moved to Helsinki at the beginning of the year.
Parkkali’s parents were happy when their son had finally found something he was interested in and approved his attempt at a career. After the first year, Parkkali had 100,000 YouTube followers. At the same time, the money earned from the first videos hit his bank account, and he started his own business.
Although the popularity of the YouTube videos exploded, Jaakko Parkkali soon noticed that he was only concentrating on the number of followers he had and whether his clothes looked good enough.
“I probably had 50 pairs of shoes and a massive pile of sweatshirts, and I almost ran out of money at some point. I concentrated on external things and paid less attention to the content of the videos. This was a major hiccup, and I wondered if everything was suddenly coming to an end. Fortunately, I understood that groundwork was the most important thing, that is filming and editing high-quality videos”, says Parkkali.
Parkkali started to develop his work by producing better content and considering what tools he could use. He understood that he did not have to know how to do everything, and he could ask for help. Parkkali found himself an office and hired an editor. At the same time, he also understood the importance of a personal brand.
“I understood that I have to be famous, but I didn’t want to be known only as a YouTuber. I had always been a fan of great TV performers and wanted to be on TV myself. So I started to ask production companies if they had any TV shows I could be on. I was ready to go on almost any show. I wanted to perform and be in front of a larger audience.”
Later, we saw YouTubers in several different TV shows, most recently in the jungle challenge “I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”.
Network, do your own thing and be patient
Jaakko Parkkali understood the importance of networking already when he was still living at home with his parents and making his first YouTube videos in his room.
“I found the phone numbers of the most famous YouTubers and called them. ‘Hi, this is Jaakko Parkkali! I’ve started to make YouTube videos. Have you heard of me?’ I always had an idea for collaborations, some of them a bit silly. This is how I got to collaborate with other YouTubers. Partners and sponsors are extremely important”, says Parkkali, who has created several long-term partnerships.
Gradually, Parkkali has built a career path where YouTube videos are at the core. TV shows, being in commercials and speaker gigs support the groundwork.
“I make videos that interest me or make me laugh because that is the most genuine material. For example, I took a 70-year-old neighbour, who is a man of the woods and lives on reindeer meat, to have a Big Mac. That video became a hit. In other words, you can move forward and succeed when you dig what you do”, says Parkkali, who also makes a lot of hockey videos.
On the other hand, when you are excited about your work, you can sometimes do too much. Jaakko Parkkali has experienced two burnouts.
“It’s a bit complicated because we encourage people to work hard. I found out the hard way. I’ve learned that it is not about how much you do but how you do it. It’s ok to sometimes leave something till the next day. Taking your time brings good results. It’s also important to counterbalance work.”
On a normal workday, Jaakko Parkkali gets up at eight, switches the computer on and starts to edit videos, for example. Then, he responds to emails and plans future postings with his partners. The rest of the day he does creative work, i.e. planning and filming videos.
“I am my own boss. I used to work in a hardware store, and it was great when you didn't have to think what to do. The employer just said: ‘Unload that pallet.’ Now I’m responsible for everything myself but I work daily with three to five other people. In addition to the editor, I have an agent and a producer who helps me to plan video content”, details Parkkali.
The salary of a social media influencer consists of performances and partnerships.
“For example, a partnership brand may have a new phone model they want to show to people. I negotiate a deal with them that pleases both parties. We agree on how many posts in which the phone will be displayed and what the message is we want to convey. The brand pays the social media influencer, so it has the right to influence the content of the video. I invoice through my company.”
People often ask Jaakko Parkkali how to become a successful social media influencer.
“If you dig something, make a video about it. It doesn't really matter what it is. For example, if you like the Wunderbaums hanging in your car and want to review them, go for it. If you and your close friends have some banter that makes you laugh, share it in social media. Working is really the only way forward. For example, if you regularly post on Instagram, some people are bound to have seen your posts after a year. Do not overthink, just do it. Let’s seize the moment and give it a go”, says the YouTuber with 240,000 followers.
Jaakko Parkkali spoke about his career at the RekryExpo recruitment fair at the Turku Fair Center on 15 November.