5 Questions With…YouTuber Phil DeFranco


Time for this week’s 5 Questions With…, featuring Phil DeFranco, a YouTube (s GOOG) star who regularly tops the Most Viewed page with his fast-paced video commentaries. DeFranco’s much more than a vlogger, though — as the CEO of DeFranco, Inc., he and his partners have expanded his brand to both independent original shows as well as an interactive series in partnership with a major Hollywood producer. Below, Phil talks about the power of being an Internet personality, how he manages to keep up with his own YouTube channel as well as his other projects, and his modest roots.

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

Holding back the industry? Nothing. If it doesn’t work, it’s because you aren’t trying hard enough or you don’t know the right people. We have the least restrictions of any medium, so to say something is holding us back is just an excuse. Many people will say funding, but I’ve made everything I have starting with a $30 webcam. You darn kids these days!!! *shakes fist*

2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?

Transmedia. It just sounds weird and most of the people using it are talking about it in a hypothetical sense. No offense to the trannies out there.

3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)

That’s a hard one for me, but I would invest that money in one of the tools I already use, whether its the Blippys, Dailybooths, or pretty much anything else.

I can’t pinpoint any one service. People fail to realize the power of an Internet personality, especially an honest one. If I use a service and enjoy it, I might as well start investing in the ones I really believe in because I’m going to get my audience involved and we make things popular. It didn’t start as a marketing model, but it turned out me liking stuff is one.

4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?

Reckless Tortuga. That guy/those guys/whoever is involved make me giggle. Most of the stuff I watch on YouTube is video game related.

5. WILD-CARD: Over the last few years, you’ve evolved your brand online from the typical YouTube channel to a thriving production company behind projects like Like Totally Awesome and Cute Win Fail. What inspired you to push beyond traditional vlog-style commentary, and what have you found to be key in keeping all your different projects sustainable?

If there is any one truth in our industry it is that if you are not growing you are dying. I mean that in viewership, production value, properties, and revenue.

I realized after I started LTA that I could only stretch myself so far. I mean I had 400k+ subscribers on that channel, but I also had 2 other channels that were far more popular. I was making 12+ videos a week and that just wasn’t sustainable. So rather than dropping LTA, I started putting people on the projects. Too many people at first, then too few, until I started to realize how many people it takes for each property to remain profitable and more importantly GOOD.

As far as why the different formats, I just get bored easily and the vlog format only works with certain personalities. But if there is any one thing that keeps me making new shows, giving channels their start, and producing good content it is that I love cool things and want to share them with people. And I bust my ass to do so.

Want to meet Phil DeFranco in person? Well, he’s one of our featured speakers at this year’s NewTeeVee Live! If you don’t already have your ticket, now’s definitely the time to fix that.

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Nobody is perfect, and everyone lies to some degree at some point in their life, but Phil is a good person who loves what he does. Everyone who hates is just jealous of the position Phil is in. Get over yourselves. He has busted his ass to be where he is today and he has inspired and keeps inspiring a great many people. I don’t see you making the number of videos he puts out and if you do, you would know how hard he works. The views and subscribers Phil has speaks for itself. And if he gets to make money doing something he loves, that is awesome. Anyone who has followed Phil since he started putting out videos knows how he has progressed. But one thing stays true, and that is, he truly has a passion for what he does.


Steveo let me tell you something; I am jealous of a few people on YouTube. Some get views in the 100s some get more views and make more money than Phil. Do I hate them? No. I’m envious of their talents which they seem to perform effortlessly while it would take me much more effort to even come close to matching, if at all.

Now do I hate Phil? Of course not, but over the past 4 years I’ve watched him I’m confident in my belief that he has the morality and scruples comparable to that of Perez Hilton (who also has thousands of fans and makes lots of money).

I want to see good people that love what they do succeed. When I say “love what they do” I don’t mean love having a job making 4-minute commercials on the internet 3 days a week like most of the top YouTube Partners, I mean “love what they do” as in these videos would still be made if there was a 100% guarantee they’d never make a dime off it.

Phil doesn’t come off to me as someone in the latter. To me he’s like Jay Leno; someone that will step over anyone to get want he wants, but when he has it, doesn’t do anything with it as opposed to Conan O’brian who was willing to walk away from his dreams and the big pay because he’s truly passionate about what he does.

That’s the big problem with YouTube nowadays… there’s too many Lenos and not enough Cocos.


I would have to say that if it were even possible to make these videos out of nothing he still would, but as it stands people gotta eat, have somewhere to live, pay the bills, buy equipment, pay for transport.. and considering he spends at least 60 hrs a week on his videos/productions it doesn’t leave much time for a job so the money has to come from somewhere (i.e. partnership revenue, and sponsorship spots). I TOTALY get what your saying on the “for love of it” idea but I have a lot of confidence he genuinely loves what he does and over 4 years that he can an HAS changed significantly as most people SHOULD being alive and such. And just in case you think I’m just trying to argue… I’m not I just enjoy discussion and expression of opinions hence why I do agree that youtube partners seem to produce no effort but on the other side of that “oh so thick” looking glass maintaining 1 channel let alone 4 is and INCREDIALBLE effort and he has posted as much in his responses to the interview. Anyway that’s some of what I think.
Peace out bro!


Phil is popular only because women/girls thinks he is hot, nothing more, give it a few years and he will fade away like any other “hit topic of the day” youtube star.

Brendan Husebo

You’ve obviously not read the article then. His entrepreneurial opportunism and willingness to treat this as a business has made him so successful; expanding like he has shortens the chance of him ‘fading away’ like you say he will.

If Youtube is safe, Phil is safe, and the former is certainly safe for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, such is the power of Youtube, it will last for however long Phil wants to.

The only thing that can stop Phil is himself. And, when he does quit, he’ll be considered nothing but a success.


“His entrepreneurial opportunism and willingness to treat this as a business has made him so successful”

You forgot “photos of women in bikinis as his thumbnail picture” but I think YouTube finally won the battle with Phil over that one.

Matt E.

Honestly, how does one make money off of YouTube videos? I thought people just posted them to be popular. Is the pay based off of how many subs one has?

Liz Shannon Miller

Pay comes from pre-roll and overlay ads, as well as (for some) sponsorship deals. You have to be a YouTube partner in order to get the moneyz, though.


“People fail to realize the power of an Internet personality, especially an honest one.”

That’s an odd comment coming from one of the most dishonest guys on YouTube.


He’s admitted to being a habitual liar. In his early days on YouTube he claimed in a video that his brother had died except he never had a brother. He once accused (I think it was Wired) of lying about trying to contact him about a story that put him in a negative light then later admitted he never checks his YouTube mail and he publicly accused the company Hitviews of stiffing him on pay when he had simply failed to give them updated contact information after he moved.

There’s many other things he’s done but I don’t feel like airing out his dirty laundry and honestly he’s popular and makes a lot of money so who cares right?

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