YouTube is a platform where millions of people go to express themselves, connect with others, and build communities. Alonzo Lerone began his YouTube channel almost a decade ago as a way to make friends, after spending the majority of his life constantly moving due to his father’s career in the military. This of course made it difficult for Lerone to establish relationships with his peers and eventually led him to YouTube where proximity doesn’t matter.
Over the years, Lerone built his audience organically by offering commentary on the best, funniest, strangest, and most failworthy posts on the Internet. After splitting his time between a day job and making videos, him getting the axe was the push he needed to dedicate himself to YouTube full-time.
SFPL’s own Arlene Danna spoke with Alonzo about his success, his first video on YouTube, where he finds content, hitting a million subscribers, being chosen to attend YouTube’s Creator Summit 2017, and much more.
For those who may not be familiar with you, can you tell us who is Alonzo Lerone?
“Just a normal guy from a little town, I’m in North Carolina. I’m a military brat. I’m basically a YouTuber right now. I’ve been doing it for eight years where I make videos about social media fails, grammar mistakes, and that’s about it.”
Is this something you saw yourself turning into a career when you first started?
“Definitely not because I had a 9-5 actually a 9-9 job. I did YouTube on the side. It was an outlet for me. Coming from different schools growing up being a military brat. I was born in Germany, was in the Philippines for a little bit then California. I made new friends but I didn’t have that sense of belonging. When I came to North Carolina everyone was so different. This is where my father retired. Every time I asked my Mom if this was the last place she’d say yes but then two places later we’re moving. I was in that situation where I didn’t know if I should make friends right now because every time I’d get attached we’d move. So in that situation I just basically had YouTube. After I graduated from high school I decided to make a YouTube video ranting about my life because a friend of mine cancelled on me at the last-minute when we had plans. We had made plans for months and months. So that’s what I did and I started connecting with people overseas, in the same state, and on the west coast. I was terminated in around 2010 or 2011 and I decided to make it my full-time job and six years after that I’m still here doing it.”
Wow, awesome! So it wasn’t until you were let go from your job that you saw turning your videos into something more?
“Well yes. I was already hooked on YouTube. I started making friends, I travelled to the UK to meet them in person after talking for so long online. So I was kind of on thin ice because I made YouTube my priority during my job and my stint at the bakery. I would actually go on break just to upload and check comments. So that was easy for me so I kind of knew I was on thin ice. So when they actually gave me the hammer I just said well everything happens for a reason. It gave me more time to concentrate on what I loved.”
It’s funny how life works out that way. You’ve reached a million subscribers on your channel. How was it reaching such a milestone?
“Yes! Well, I don’t concentrate on numbers. I don’t want to misguided or distracted from what I came here to do. Which is make friends. I don’t want to get lost in the sauce of numbers, but someone tweeted me about hitting a million subscribers. I actually hit it on Thanksgiving Day last year while I was with my family. So that was amazing because I started YouTube with my family at zero subscribers and I ended up with a million subscribers on Thanksgiving Day so that was a great feeling.”
That’s really dope, on Thanksgiving of all days.
“It’s crazy how things work out like that.”
How do you find content for your videos?
“Well my subscribers, the audience, my viewers send them to me. Which is crazy because the first few years I would do it myself. I’m on the Internet anyway so I’d do it myself. When the series Dumbest Fails started getting traction and getting picked up by different things people would email me, or tweet me, or Facebook me, or inbox me things. I decided to react to that and it made my career so much easier and that’s why I cater to them.”
Talk about harnessing the power of the Internet. Tell us what are you currently working on?
“Well I’m going to a YouTube summit in New York in May. I’m getting prepared for that. This is will be my first time at the event so I’m getting ready for that but in the meantime I’m still making videos. I’m actually editing a video right now that I’d like to get up by tomorrow. Editing is the hardest process but I’m in the zone when I’m editing so I’m alright with that.”
Was editing something you were familiar when you started with your videos or is it something you’ve sort of learned to master over time?
“I’ve perfected it along the way most definitely. Every time I’m editing I’m always in the zone. I can’t hear my phone, I can hear the TV but it sounds like a bee because I’m in the zone.”
Tell us about the summit.
“It’s a YouTube summit. It’s a bunch of elite YouTubers getting together, connecting with each other, learning more about YouTube, how to grow, and connect with brands.”
Awesome, that’s really dope. You guys have like your own little community and it’s kind of like expanding from the people who watch your videos and getting to meet other people just like you who are creating.
“Exactly. It’s a wonderful feeling that doing what I love can make me and have me living comfortably and smart too because you’ve got to save. The money just comes while I’m doing what I do so it’s just a flawless connection right there.”
Besides your videos and the summit do you have anything else in the works?
“Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time. I just got my house and I paid off my school loans after graduating. So I’m just trying to be at ease, not too much stress. I’m just trying to take it each day at a time. I don’t expect anything but I’m just living for each day right now.”
That’s great. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own YouTube channel and creating a platform?
“Don’t get discouraged by focusing on the numbers. Back to what I was saying about numbers because there was that one time I did and that was my fault but I learned from my mistakes. It could have been so much worst if I concentrated on other people versus me. Do not get discouraged off views. Keep it going, keep it consistent, connect with your audience and go from there. The blessings will come to you when you least expect it just keep on doing what you love.”
Last question just for fun. What does fly mean to you?
“Handling your own, taking charge with no regrets and learning from your mistakes. That’s what fly means to me.”
Twitter + Instagram: @AlonzoLerone