Malaysian vlogger Tanesh Vijayagomaran may be considered a successful and popular YouTuber today for his many comedy videos, but he laughingly admits that when he first started posting on YouTube many years ago, his videos were “awful and embarrassing”.
“When I was around 13, I was a huge fan of American comedian Ryan Higa who did comedy videos on his YouTube channel Nigahiga. So I started a channel and created similar videos, but they were terrible and I deleted them soon after because I was so embarrassed, ” reveals the 25-year-old from Klang.
That was his first foray into the world of YouTube and he had only 50 subscribers, who were mainly his school friends, he says.
Fast forward to 2015, when he was 20, Tanesh and a high school friend filmed videos for their comedy channel, 2BlackSheeps, which went from 100 to almost 1,000 subscribers, but they discontinued the channel when they couldn’t meet often enough to plan and film the videos.
In 2016, Tanesh launched his solo channel, TaneshhVlogs, and later, Taneshh Productions.
While TaneshhVlogs was inspired by vloggers during that time such as Joe Jo and Bart & Geo, and features his daily life, Taneshh Productions was created as his main channel for comedy sketches.
“My dad bought me a GoPro Hero 4, and I started vlogging. Surprisingly, the channels kicked off really well and the audience enjoyed my shenanigans with my fellow YouTuber friends, ” he says.
“It’s been a steady growth since then. When I started getting offers to do sponsored videos, I realised this was definitely the career path for me, and I just had to work hard enough to make it sustainable, ” he adds.
Today, Tanesh is well-loved for his comedy skits where he parodies the typical Malaysian Indian family on his YouTube channel Taneshh Productions.
He admits that as a YouTuber, he has to “constantly be on a creative mode” – there’s no “off” button. Content creation for YouTube is a whole different process compared to content creation for traditional media such as movies or television, he says.
“With traditional media, you work on one content for months or years at a time, from start to finish. But with YouTube, you’re easily working on hundreds of smaller, different content in a year!” he explains.
“We’ve to be able to come up with ideas for content frequently and execute them fast – that’s always the biggest challenge, ” he says.
According to Tanesh, inspiration for his videos are “never from a single source, and comes and goes in waves”.
“I’ve moments in a year where I’m extremely inspired to do videos and I also have phases where my channel is quiet for a while when there isn’t the inspiration nor motivation, ” he says.
Tanesh's inspiration to make videos comes from YouTube itself.
“Sometimes, when I’m watching something on YouTube – whether it’s about current affairs or a popular song – it sparks an interest in a particular trending topic and I'll make a video about it. But of course, I'll inject my own style and sense of humour into it to make it something uniquely my own, ” he explains.
To Tanesh, a good YouTube video is one that “makes you sit and watch the entire thing without being distracted and clicking away”.
“What makes a YouTube video great depends on the type of video itself, but a great one will accurately satisfy the curiosity of viewers when they read the title and click on the thumbnail,” he says.
Tanesh says that the “shareability” of a video is the most important factor when deciding whether to turn an idea into a video.
“Besides making the viewer laugh, it must also compel them to share it with their friends or tag them in the comments,” he says.
He reveals that his viewer demographics comprise 95% Malaysian Indians who are both English and Tamil speaking.
“In the beginning, my content was mainly Malaysian and in English. But I noticed the void in the market for Malaysian Tamil-based content, so I decided to focus on that,” he says, adding that all his Tamil content comes with English subtitles so even non-Tamil speakers can still watch and follow them.
Tanesh modestly says that his combined total of nearly 80k followers on his two channels “doesn’t seem huge these days”, but he believes the growth of his main channel came when he started doing videos involving “Amma” (Mother) and “Appa” (Father) characters where he plays most of the roles, including of the mother and father, much to the amusement of his own parents.
His comedy videos are a lighthearted and funny look at daily occurences in a Malaysian Indian household.
“I took everyday happenings within a Malaysian Indian household, exaggerated them a little, made skits out of them, and it really took off,” he says.
Tanesh reveals that he has two types of fans.
“The younger, louder ones usually comment and share my videos, and tell me how much of a fan they are, while the older, silent ones from 25- right up to 50-year-olds watch and enjoy my videos, but aren’t so vocal. However, they’ve come forward to say hi when I meet them in public,” he says.
His advice to aspiring YouTubers and vloggers is to focus on creating and producing good videos, and uploading them.
“If you focus too much on the numbers in the beginning, you might be disappointed and get discouraged. But if you do it because you’re interested in making creative content, then that’s all you need. The audience will come eventually, and the following will grow accordingly,” he says.
Although it’s possible to earn some money on YouTube, Tanesh admits that most YouTubers don’t earn enough money on just YouTube alone, to survive on.
“I started earning small amounts from YouTube around mid-2017 with more views and consistent uploads, but although the amount has increased, it’s still pretty insignificant compared to my main source of income which is sponsored videos and content,” he says.
“To earn a lot of money on YouTube, consistency and an extremely high number of views is the key. But, unless you’re raking in millions or hundreds of thousands of views per video on a regular basis, the YouTube Adsense income isn’t sufficient to survive on. It’s more of a supplementary source of income,” he adds.
Tanesh who recently got engaged, sometimes features his fiancee, Tharsyani Nair, in his vlogs.
“My engagement was a surprise for everyone even though people knew I had a girlfriend. No one saw it coming because we’re still young,” he says.
“When we posted about it on Instagram, it just blew up! We got thousands of congratulatory comments and shares, and it became the most-liked post for me and my fiancee.
“A week later, when I released the engagement vlog, we had 20k-30k views in 24 hours! Overall, the engagement was good (audience) engagement!” he quips.
Tanesh says that he’s fortunate because the pandemic hasn’t impacted his Youtube-ing activities too much.
“Since it’s basically me making videos of myself, usually at home, it’s pretty much the same for me. I can still film at home and continue with the videos. The thousands of bored people stuck at home during the MCO and conditional MCO period has actually brought up my viewership and subscribers! So, that’s the silver lining to the pandemic cloud for me,” he concludes.