The next generation of influencers is creating young entrepreneurs. We chat with one of Melbourne’s rising stars Leah Halton.
When most of us were younger, we relied on the newspaper, the television and our parents to receive the latest news and to find the newest products on the market—a simpler time, where nothing was at anyone’s fingertips. Today, social media has given us all the latest information, the latest products and news at our fingertips well before we ask for it. Enter Leah Halton, a nineteen-year-old influencer who has crafted her own empire from Youtube and Instagram.
At nineteen, we were either pushing a shopping trolley at Woolies or working for a relative to earn two dollars an hour. For Leah, she is jetting to Brisbane for a day shooting content with brands. She’s curating content from her bedroom via a smartphone. She’s amassed a following who love her so much they have created multiple fan pages dedicated to her. Influencers are treated just like a celebrity, and when one speaks with Leah you can’t help but hear the same examples of public admiration and fear you’d hear from a celebrity. Leah is a young woman who does what most would shy away from. A camera in your face every day, thousands of people following her every move—even (Sylvester Stallone’s daughter) one of Leah’s followers—would send an extrovert into a catastrophic meltdown.
While she is young, Leah understands why people find it hard being in the spotlight, and for herself, it is no different. Her subtle and calm demeanour when talking about such themes denotes two things. One, she has become confident over time. Something that needed to be nurtured and grown rather than not caring from the very beginning. Two, she is still figuring all of this out while building her own empire. Leah works with hundreds of brands, all who want to make the most of her following, which is reminiscent of an Ariana Grande fan club or a Miley Cyrus following. They are passionate, engaged and ready to do battle with whoever messes with their star.
As we sat with Leah, we chatted about an influencer’s life, her attempt to find meaning in content and her relationship experiences being a public personality. We delved into what she looks for in a man (fellas listen up) and what it means to be a young female dating in a very public world. She takes us on a trip covering the rise of Australia’s next generation of influencers, how much work one must complete building a following, and what it means to go viral. For Leah, a workweek looks and feels drastically different from someone’s nine to five job in an office. However, her work week proves times are changing, and the work done alone, requires nothing short of creative divinity and self-motivation. While many are attempting to achieve what Leah has, there is no shortcut, no magic recipe for success. For Leah, it’s hard work and time spent alone creating content for her beloved followers.
Here’s our chat.
Original Ballers: Leah, how did you get into influencing?
Leah Halton: Well, I started with Instagram. Like, I always had Instagram and then I had a makeup account because I was actually doing people’s makeup as a side job. So over time, I think just from posting photos, I reached around like maybe 70K and then before I started YouTube I had 100k.
Original Ballers: How do you live your life in the public eye? Surely this isn’t easy?
Leah Halton: I honestly keep a lot private. People know many facts about me like random facts, like, where I’m from my age, my name, childhood facts, but people don’t know what my dad looks like. He doesn’t really want to show himself on the internet, so I respect that. I always try to convince him to show a little of himself because everyone is so desperate to see my dad, and I find that crazy. Everyone is so invested in me and my life it can get kinda crazy. For instance, recently I moved, and I didn’t address it, and people were watching my videos and seeing my content and like, commenting—why did you move? Like your room, it’s so different? Like, I got so many DMS, so many comments, and it’s crazy how invested people can be.
Original Ballers: That’s frightening, isn’t it?
Leah Halton: It doesn’t really scare me because I don’t think anyone knows where I live now. The house that I live in now is decked-out well—high security. So I feel safe. It’s just weird to think that people can pick every detail up when something’s changed. It’s crazy, but I don’t talk about relationships. I like to keep all that stuff personal. Not that I have a relationship at the moment, haha.
Original Ballers: We saw how invested your fan base is, you have like 18 fan-made accounts.
Leah Halton: I love it! I love to interact with them. Because I find it so nice that people are willing to put that time into reposting photos of me and say nice things about me. Like, of course, I want to interact with them. I feel really grateful.
Original Ballers: What do you think makes a good influencer?
Leah Halton: Yeah, I think it’s weird because it’s either tough to become an influencer or really easy. For some people, it takes nothing. Mine has kind of been a gradual build, but I try always to put out good content, and it takes a lot of effort. For example, I always pay attention to other people’s edits for YouTube because I edit my own videos. Honestly, a good influencer is made from hard work and having a good personality. You can just tell when someone’s genuine, you can just tell. So I will just be myself and work hard. It can be disheartening, especially for people that are just starting versus people that blow up. And then other people who put in so much effort, and they’re not getting as much recognition, it can be really hard. You just have to keep going.
Original Ballers: What are some tips on making a big YouTube channel?
Leah Halton: It’s all about people wanting to click on the video. So you have to have an exciting title and an exciting thumbnail. For my formal, we’ll just talk about my formal video because that’s my biggest one. The thumbnail is a picture of me before getting ready and me after, and then in the title, It will say transformation. Apparently, the colour red and having arrows are good to use on the thumbnail. It just has to have like a short and sweet title that kind of makes you question it and something really eye-catching. What I like to do before I choose my title and thumbnail is, I’ll ask my friends before every video, which title is better? And every time I have a video idea, I usually write it down. I have a whole list. So planning is also essential.
Original Ballers: Does it take long to think of ideas?
Leah Halton: I don’t take long to think about what I do. I kind of just choose a shooting day and then I do it. Everything kind of just happens naturally.
Original Ballers: What does your workweek look like?
Leah Halton: Well, I’ll talk through my week. So I upload on Tuesdays and Fridays. So I have to usually film at least a day before I upload. But I get distracted easily. After filming, editing and uploading I don’t really do anything because I’m so burnt out from the day before. I edit all night as long as I get the video uploaded on time. On the day of uploading, so I don’t really do anything. Usually, I’ll take pictures and see my friends, but it’s a lot of effort to get ready and take photos. And I have many mental breakdowns when I take photos, and I don’t think people realise that. I have a mental breakdown every time I take photos which makes it unenjoyable for me. Obviously, you upload and choose the best photo. But if the lighting isn’t good, if you can’t find a good background, if you don’t do your makeup the best you feel like it isn’t good. I wouldn’t say I like taking photos, but I have to do it.
Original Ballers: Do you always feel like you have to look like someone’s idea of perfect?
Leah Halton: I don’t feel that way. But when I take photos Yes, I feel that way. I also get horrible social anxiety. Like really bad. Um, I feel like it’s actually gotten worse since this whole thing picked up because all eyes are on me when I go out. And I don’t really realise that because I don’t look at anyone. I’ve always not looked at anyone when I walk because I just hate it. But my friends are always like, ‘everyone’s looking at you’. It makes me get all tense and uncomfortable. When I take photos in public, it’s horrible.
Original Ballers: Do you get randoms coming up to you?
Leah Halton: Sometimes, but usually it’s mostly stares. I would prefer if people come up to me because I find it really easy to have a conversation, but the staring is hard.
Original Ballers: What does a beginner need to start?
Leah Halton: If you’re going to do something similar to me, you kind of have to have a good phone. I used to film on my iPhone seven plus, and like it was okay, but it wasn’t the best. I have the iPhone 11, and it’s amazing. It has great audio. It has a great camera, and I use the selfie camera. I would just set up my phone in front of a window, and I’d sit down and do my makeup and shoot with my iPhone. I used my phone for like the whole year, and I just got a camera, and honestly, I think I prefer my phone most times.
Original Ballers: Have you had a pinch-me moment this year?
Leah Halton: This year, one day, I woke up to a DM from James Charles, and he is like my inspiration, and I just started crying. I called my dad straight away, and I was sobbing, and my dad’s like, what’s wrong? Because I don’t usually do that. I told him that James said that he watches me. I was so shocked, and then he ended up commenting on one of my YouTube videos, so it was a great moment for me.
Original Ballers: Do you have a workout regime during your week?
Leah Halton: I find it very hard to work out. I’m not a very active person. I wouldn’t say I like it.
Original Ballers: What is a favourite dish?
Leah Halton: My mum made this dish for me when I was a child because I was a very picky eater, so this is probably my favourite comfort food haha. It is pasta with only salt and butter, and it’s called “blonde pasta”.
Original Ballers: No way…
Leah Halton: It is the best pasta you will ever eat. I don’t know. Like, I’m addicted to salt. It’s so good. I’ve never heard of it, so I probably made it up. If I had to have one last meal, it would be that it means so much to me.
Original Ballers: How do you deal with the old male DMs? And do you get them?
Leah Halton: I get a lot. I get so many DMs.
Original Ballers: We imagine you do.
Leah Halton: I don’t open most of my DMs. Sorry if you DM me, I see a few of them. I really appreciate all the nice messages. It makes me feel really good. But what sucks is when you get like one bad comment, it takes over all the good comments. Yeah, and it’s so hard because it just constantly plays on your mind. Um, I don’t usually get too many bad things. Men commenting like gross stuff doesn’t really affect me but hate comments affect me. I’m a very sensitive person. That’s why I have always been nervous about doing YouTube.
Original Ballers: Okay, being single, what do you look for in a guy? Let’s see if we can find your Romeo amongst the foul men out there.
Leah Halton: This is a hard question because I actually don’t know, I don’t talk to guys. I was thinking about this the other day, which is weird because when I talk to a guy, I only talk to that one guy, I find it really hard to give my energy to multiple people at a time, which is kind of a bad thing.
Original Ballers: It’s a good thing!
Leah Halton: It’s a good thing, but a bad thing, because then I get invested in this one person. And I feel like that’s a bit with friends as well. But yeah, like, I don’t know whether I want someone who’s on the down-low and don’t have much to do with the internet. Or if I want someone that’s bigger like me that I can relate to. Honestly, I don’t think I have time for anyone right now. But maybe that’s why it would be better if I were with someone who did a similar job. Because when my friend Siobhan started doing more influencer stuff like me, I began spending the most time with her. If I was to have a boyfriend who was doing online stuff, would I want the relationship to be public? Then there’s the kind of power dynamic thing because I’ve never had a boyfriend who has had more followers than me. So how would that make them feel?
Original Ballers: We can imagine there would be some hurdles with jealousy.
Leah Halton: Yeah, it’s interesting, because I’ve experienced some jealousy from guys in the past because I get attention. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them.
Original Ballers: What’s one of your goals?
Leah Halton: To reach one million subscribers. That’s important to me.
Original Ballers: What are three things people should know about before being an influencer?
Leah Halton: It takes up a lot of time. It takes up a lot of effort, and you have to love it. You have to because it’s one of those jobs. It’s easy to love. But if you don’t, if you start to get sick of it, and then your content suffers, people can tell when you’re not enjoying yourself. I had a period of time where I was very stressed and very unmotivated, so people really notice when you’re not feeling your best, but you just have to be yourself and work hard.
Original Ballers: How is it working with brands?
Leah Halton: My manager helps me decide because I have a manager and he helps with mainly like, my promotional jobs, he helps me decide like, what brands would be best. I really like to work with brands that I believe in. I don’t work with brands I don’t believe in. So I have to say no heaps of times because I won’t promote something I’m not invested in for some reason. In saying that I work with heaps of brands that are really cool and have awesome teams working with them, so it’s just about picking the brands who will be like me or who are really pushing something creative out into the world to help my followers and my people.