These days, it seems like everyone wants their own YouTube channel, and it’s a relatively simple process to start. All you need is a YouTube account and a camera, and you can post whatever videos you want. The challenging part is keeping the channel going, since you have to think of unique content ideas, maintain a regular posting schedule, film videos, and then edit them yourself. It seems like too much commitment for something that isn’t guaranteed to succeed, and it’s no wonder that a lot of people end up abandoning their channels after posting a few videos. However, Nicole Alba proves that it is possible to be a successful YouTuber, so long as you have the determination and the ideas.
Alba studied at Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA) in high school, and for a period of time, she found herself choosing between studying a business course in Ateneo de Manila University or a social science course in the University of the Philippines Diliman. She ended up choosing UP because she wanted a different environment that would help her grow. She’s currently a 4th year student taking up BA Political Science, but she didn’t exactly stray far from the business path as she’s also a personal finance YouTuber with over 270,000 subscribers.
According to Alba, starting a YouTube channel was already part of her bucket list even before she knew what type of content she wanted to post. She just never had the time to do so until May 2020, when the whole world went into lockdown and her days were not as busy. She already had skills in video editing and graphic design, which was a big advantage to her channel, but she didn’t immediately go all out in terms of equipment. In one of her videos, Alba reveals her initial filming set-up, which involves a phone camera, a makeshift tripod, and strategically placed LED lights, and it just goes to show that you don’t really need expensive gadgets in order to start a YouTube channel.
As for the type of content on Alba’s channel, she mostly talks about the basics of personal finance and investing, but despite being known for these things, she doesn’t really consider herself a finance YouTuber. According to Alba, she created her channel with the intent to document and share what she learned in her twenties. It just so happens that the first video she posted was about finance, and that was what became popular among her audience. And there is a reason why Alba’s finance videos have people hooked, as she brings a brand of humor and entertainment to an otherwise dull subject.
As for how she got into finance in the first place, Alba says that her parents have always taught her the importance of saving money while she was growing up. Her parents are both self-employed and have built their business from the ground up. Alba says they’re not the main reason why she became interested in finance, but they inspired her to strive for success and also made her want to start her own business eventually. Her deep-dive into the finance world actually stems from her fear of not knowing what she wanted to do after high school. “If I don’t know what to do, I could at least manage my money so I don’t have to worry about it in the future,” Alba states.
Alba was first exposed to finance in Grade 11, when she attended a conference about investing, although she didn’t understand anything at that time. She only took it seriously after graduating high school, and since finance isn’t exactly a subject taught in school, she learned everything she knows with the help of the internet.
The struggles of being a YouTuber
Being a content creator means that you’re constantly grappling with time management because you’re basically operating as a one-person team. But on top of being a student and a content creator, Alba is also doing internships, and she says that online classes and the work from home set-up allowed her to maximize her time. “As to how I balance my time, I have no idea. But I really believe that if you want something to happen, you will find a way to make it happen. But I’m not saying it’s easy because you have to sacrifice certain things,” Alba shares.
There’s also the added challenge of being a Chinoy in a creative field. Alba didn’t actually tell her parents about her YouTube channel until she reached 1000 subscribers (which happened only a month after she started uploading videos), but once they found out, they were incredibly supportive of her channel and would even share it to their friends. However, there are still some things that Alba’s parents don’t understand about the YouTube industry, so she would need to have another conversation with them if she wants to pursue it as a career. But for now, she intends to keep her YouTube channel as a side hustle.
Alba mentions that she’s grateful for the overwhelmingly positive support from her family and her online community, but no one is safe from occasional hate comments. “It’s scary to put yourself out there,” Alba says. “At the start, I felt very exhilarated that people are watching my videos, but now that I’m kind of at my scale, like 270,000 subscribers, there’s just so many different opinions. At the start, it was a small community, and most people are supportive, but now from time to time, there are haters, and some people can be so demanding, and there are people who assume things about you that you really have no control over. So it gets draining sometimes to think about YouTube.”
Alba also had to come to terms with the fact that she’s now a public figure whom a lot of people look up to, which means she has to be more conscious of the type of content she posts. “Before when I was making things, I was like ‘ok whatever, I’ll just make it, wala naman masyadong nanonood.’ But now I make things more carefully because I know the influence I have, then I talk about personal finance pa naman. And I know if I say something, people might follow it, and if I don’t research it enough, it might affect their finances.” Alba once again emphasizes that she’s only sharing what she knows, and this becomes the source of her Imposter Syndrome, as many people tend to see her as a finance guru.
Advice for fellow youth
Despite not considering herself a finance YouTuber or a finance guru, Alba certainly had a lot of sage advice to offer to her fellow youth.
“A general message for people my age or even younger: Don’t be afraid of trying out different things. I think there’s a benefit for young people to try as many things as they can because it teaches you about what you like, what you don’t like, and it informs your decisions in the future.”
“In terms of managing personal finances, the most important thing to do when you are young is to invest in yourself and your skills. We can talk about saving as much as you can, maging kuripot ka, but honestly speaking, when you’re young, you probably only have a few thousand pesos or tens of thousands if you’re lucky, but that would only get you so far, and then you’re gonna risk it for trading or for crypto and you might lose it pa. I think instead it’s better to focus on developing your skills so you can prepare for the future and earn more money. Kasi if you’re saving so much pero konti lang kinikita mo, what’s the point? So I think it’s better, as someone who’s young, to at least develop skills.”