Amanda Castillo: Reimagining the impact of social media

19 minute read


Epsa: [00:03:45] Hi everyone, thank you so much for tuning in. Today we have an awesome guest, Amanda Castillo. She went to Cal Poly and she’s currently living in L.A. She’s amassed over 338,000 subscribers and over 21 million views on her channel, and she has over 23,000 followers on Instagram. Her platform has definitely transformed throughout her years of experience, just growing up and being a college student, to post grad life. So we’re really excited to chat with Amanda and just hear how YouTube started for her and how it’s really helped her grow into the type of person she is today. [00:04:22][36.6]

Amanda: [00:04:23] Oh, well, thanks for having me, ladies. I’m excited. [00:04:27][3.8]

Sydney: [00:04:29] To kick us off. Could you tell us a bit about where your journey with YouTube started? Like, how did it begin for you? [00:04:36][6.9]

Amanda: [00:04:37] Yeah, of course. So what’s actually super funny, a lot of people don’t know this, but I made my first YouTube channel my freshman year of high school, and I think I got over like two hundred subscribers, maybe three hundred, I don’t know. But I ended up deleting it because my mom was sharing it on Facebook with all of our family members. And I got shy. [00:04:56][18.7]

Epsa: [00:04:57] She was so proud of you. [00:04:58][1.1]

Amanda: [00:04:59] She was so proud of me, and I was like, mom, stop it, but she kept on doing it so I ended up deleting that. And then the summer going into my junior year of high school, that’s when I made the YouTube channel with the name it’s Mandarin. And yeah. So it started really right before into my junior year. And I really only made it just to have fun. I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but I really learned everything on YouTube, like how to apply eyeliner and what’s the best way to apply foundation. And I was obsessed with it. And that’s what I kind of thought to myself, like, this looks kind of easy, like I should do it myself. And yeah, that’s kind of where it started. [00:05:34][35.5]

Sydney: [00:05:35] I love how you just went for it too with posting YouTube videos because like for me personally, that’s scary. Like, I don’t want to be putting myself, like, on a camera and being so, like, open with just strangers on the Internet. So I think it’s awesome that you were so bold and starting so early with that and continuing it till today. [00:05:56][20.9]

Epsa: [00:05:57] So now you’re done the whole year postgrad. How would you say your YouTube content has changed over the years and what aspects of your growth and lifestyle are reflected in your channel and products you promote? [00:06:07][10.1]

Amanda: [00:06:08] Yeah, so I honestly got really lucky and how my channel has progressed because now I’m able to promote so many different products that my channel kind of is about. So to kind of give you guys more detail, like when I first started my channel back in high school, I was all about the beauty. I did, although I wouldn’t say basic, but all the very common YouTube videos, like what’s in my bag and makeup tutorials and monthly favorites. And I was all about that. And then I think when I got into my senior year of high school, that’s when my channel kind of exploded. I came out with like a how how to get ready for prom or how I got ready for prom. And that one got like over a million views in a few months, super crazy. And that’s when my channel went from like under ten thousand subscribers to over 40. And then when I went into my freshman year of college, that’s when I hit my one hundred thousand subscriber mark. And that’s when I was really into veganism. So I went vegan my senior year of high school, but I didn’t go, like, fully into it until I went to college. And I think that’s when I gained a lot of my followers. I started posting like how I cook vegan food in the dorm. And a lot of people were about that in my food hauls and stuff like that. And now my channel has kind of become this kind of hybrid of make up videos, which I do sometimes. But I’ve been leaning more towards food. I’ve been trying to, so sometimes I’ll get sponsored by clothing companies like Princess Polly or I’ll get sponsored by, like Hello Fresh, you know, like companies that want you to promote food or beauty or whatever. So now it’s kind of become a little bit of everything, which I kind of loike [00:07:52][104.3]

Epsa: [00:07:54] That’s fun, Yyu wear many different hats and stuff. [00:07:55][1.1]

Amanda: [00:07:56] Yeah, definitely. [00:07:57][0.6]

Epsa: [00:07:59] And so with, you know, wearing many different hats, I noticed you started promoting some more women’s health, sexuality products on your Instagram, which I think is great. It’s really good to make these topics not taboo. But Amanda, I must know, were you like super shy or intimidated or just scared to promote these since it’s a little bit different than the content you promote? [00:08:17][18.8]

Amanda: [00:08:18] My God, I was terrified. Are you kidding me? Because a lot of my close friends, even through high school, I was such an innocent girl, really shy. I’m not like very provocative on my Instagram. If I posted a little bit of cleavage, I’m like, oh, gosh, like cringe. And on top of that, I have a lot of family members that follow me. [00:08:39][20.8]

Epsa: [00:08:40] And your mom, like, might reshare your content. [00:08:42][1.7]

Amanda: [00:08:45] Exactly. My mom literally has no barriers. So when I got that email, so that was like Bush was that company that they like do the clitoral vibrator or whatever. They emailed me saying we’ll pay you X amount to do an Instagram post. And it wasn’t a crazy amount. It’s the amount I would normally do for a sponsored post. But for some reason I thought about it, their message is what got me. It was like we are trying to empower women about their sexuality. It’s very taboo to masturbate and it really shouldn’t be because you see it in movies all the time with guys, like you know, wankin’ it, and it’s not problem. But with a girl it’s a little bit taboo and like you said, that definitely shouldn’t be the case. I mean, we’re human just like men. And I think their message behind their product is what really got me and promoting it, I got some of the best comments and feedback I’ve ever gotten. It was crazy, like thousands of like, so many comments from people being like, ‘Yes, girl, go you, thank you for promoting this.’ Girls from my high school, college, my own cousins. I was like, OK, wow. So that’s why I mean, I get kind of confused when people ask me, “What’s your channel about?” I’m like, “I don’t know, everything?” It’s everything that I love. Makeup, beauty, food, clothes, all the above. [00:10:10][85.2]

Sydney: [00:10:11] And then what would you say resonates the most with your audience? [00:10:14][2.6]

Amanda: [00:10:15] Oh, definitely the food videos. Every time I do upload a “What I eat in a day” or honestly it’s mostly “What I eat in a day” or like a Trader Joe’s haul, those videos do so well for some reason. [00:10:25][9.7]

Sydney: [00:10:27] I saw your fall haul from Trader Joe’s. I loved that vibe, so about it. [00:10:30][2.7]

Amanda: [00:10:32] Thank you. I don’t know why, but people were like always lovin the Trader Joe’s. It’s like even if I do like a Whole Foods whole, they don’t do as well as Trader Joe’s. I’m just like Trader Joe’s just please sponsor me man. They don’t sponsor anybody! [00:10:43][11.1]

Epsa: [00:10:44] Speaking of Trader Joe’s and sponsorships, I mean, I don’t have one, but I watch every single Trader Joe’s haul on my feed because I just love that place. But anyway,. [00:10:55][10.1]

Sydney: [00:10:56] Throughout your YouTube journey, what would you say were some of the most difficult things with managing your channel or managing growth? And were there ever times that you wanted to quit? [00:11:09][12.4]

Amanda: [00:11:10] Yeah, I would say that YouTube definitely became stressful as soon as I had to file my taxes, and that was freshman year of college because like I said, I started my channel initially just to have fun. And when my channel was close to one hundred thousand subscribers, I got my first manager and I got an agent my freshman year of college. And if you think about it, I was 18, I was super young and I was getting all this money. It wasn’t crazy money, but it was like if I was working, I don’t know, a part time/ full time job. When I’m just filming videos. So the money was exciting and everything. And then I remember because I had that manager, I didn’t have to deal with my sponsorships, I didn’t have to negotiate, I didn’t have to formally write these emails or make rate cards and look through analytics and all of that thing. So he really did all of the business side of YouTube for me. And when it came to taxes, I found someone to do it for me. I was just not about it. And then my senior year of high school, that’s when you know. Oh, not high school. My senior year of college, sorry, that’s when life kind of hits you hard because you’re about to graduate, go into the real world and really had to take a step back and ask myself, like, am I going to be pursuing YouTube as a career or am I actually going to use my degree? Like, because, I mean, throughout college, all the money that I made through YouTube, I spent it on my tuition. So I really don’t have this giant amount that I’ve saved, it all went to college. So I’m like asking myself, am I going to use my degree like all the money, all the money I made off YouTube? And for me, I was like, I definitely do want to use my degree. So my manager noticed that, he was like, “OK, Amanda, you’re not posting consistently. You’re not answering my emails back. I could tell you’re just not into it.” And he was like, “I have a lot of other clients that are pursuing YouTube as their full time job.” But we both decided that it was best to just like part ways and him focus on his clients, because I really just wasn’t doing a lot on my end. So when I graduated from college, that’s when I was like, wait, I actually do want to do YouTube a lot. And that’s when I moved to L.A. and that’s when it hit me hard. I had to figure out how to negotiate my own prices and how to formally write emails. A lot of my college roommates were business majors, so I would literally send them screenshots like guys, please help me. How do I write this e-mail? So it was a lot of just trial and error practicing all of these things on my own. Now, I could say, OK, I’ve got a hang of things but it’s taken me so long to kind of get the hang of things. But I definitely have had moments where I’m just like, I don’t know if I want to do YouTube, especially when I look at my friends that, they got their degree in college and they’re actually using it in like a full time job. And I’m over here, like dang I’m sort of just like filming videos online. That’s when I kind of feel guilty and I kind of doubt myself, and especially when I work hours on like filming and editing a video, takes me like a week to make it. And then I upload it, and it gets like less than half the views I expected it to get. So all of these things that really like, you know, make me sad and kind of discourage me from continuing to make YouTube videos. But when I see comments from people and, you know, constant support from others, I don’t even know personally. I’m like, OK, this is why I’m making YouTube videos. Like, I still got supporters out there somewhere. So, yeah, it’s definitely kind of like a hill. A wave. [00:14:48][218.3]

Epsa: [00:14:51] Wow. OK, wait, how did you fully know, like when you graduated. OK, I really do want to pursue YouTube. Like what internally, was like, oh I really have to do this? [00:15:01][10.0]

Amanda: [00:15:05] OK, yeah. That was a good question. It was definitely the summer after I graduated. A lot of my friends — you know, a lot of people do this after graduating college, they take this like huge travel trip or whatever — and a lot of my friends went to Asia, and I didn’t have the money for it because I don’t really come from a lot of money, my mom doesn’t really support me. So I was like, I’m just going to stay home with my family, chill, kind of figure out what I want to do. And throughout the entire summer, I was being consistent with my YouTube videos. I was like posting a lot and my channel was growing. And that’s when I kind of told myself, like, OK, if I actually put in the work, I’ll see the benefits. And I also realized like this, if I just stop making YouTube videos, this is me throwing an opportunity down the trash because I’m so lucky to have the amount of followers that I have. There are, like you said, having a YouTube channel is super popular nowadays or being really famous on Tik Tok or Instagram. I feel like everyone knows someone that has a following, it’s that common. And I think for me to just, like, throw that away and be like I’m going to have a real job and just pretend social media doesn’t care, like it just doesn’t make sense to me. So it was definitely the summer after college. And I’m like, I could definitely try to balance the two; find a job that can use my degree, while still also doing YouTube videos. [00:16:30][84.7]

Sydney: [00:16:31] And what was your degree? [00:16:32][0.8]

Amanda: [00:16:33] Nutrition. [00:16:33][0.0]

Sydney: [00:16:35] Would you say that you ever leverage that background when it comes to creating fitness content or health and wellness related videos for your YouTube channel? [00:16:43][8.2]

Amanda: [00:16:44] One hundred percent. I mean, I feel like when I’ll do certain, like food videos, I love talking about why it’s important to stay healthy or like the health tips that I like to give. But at the same time, I have to remind myself, like and they told us this in college, to do not give nutrition advice if you’re not a registered dietitian. And I decided to not go down that route because I was like, I don’t know if I want to spend $10,000 to go to school to get a credential that I may or may not use. So I’ll sometimes use that. But I actually didn’t mention this yet. But I like pursued health coaching after graduating because I was like, I need to have a certificate in something. So I found this online school that’s like under the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches. And I have to take the board exam in February. But I got my certificate and everything, so now I could say when I’m like giving health advice, like I’m a certified health coach, not a dietician but, I guess it gives me some sort of credentials to say stuff. [00:17:41][57.2]

Epsa: [00:17:44] I think it’s so cool that you almost now have like a hybrid of your degree, your interests and really what you want to pursue. I think that’s awesome. But I’m sure it was hard to land on that when it just always seems like people after college, not always, but just looks like they use their degree immediately and they have this job which can sometimes come across perfect, like it looks perfect. Someone has this job, they’re using their degree. But I can assure you, like 90 percent of the time, people are just doing work that is mundane and they’re not entirely passionate about it. But at least you get to produce content and, you know, it’s having a positive impact on people and you’re putting in the work. But I’m sure, like, you don’t love editing all your videos all the time, but at least you’re seeing direct impact. [00:18:24][40.3]

Amanda: [00:18:25] So true. Yeah, and that’s a good point, too. I mean, I have some friends that, you know, they constantly complain about their jobs. Another one that literally is quitting theirs and just going to get unemployment, because I think especially with COVID, now that you don’t see the benefits from your workplace, like, you know, some of them will have like ice cream bars. [00:18:44][19.1]

Epsa: [00:18:45] Dude they do that for a reason. [00:18:46][1.0]

Amanda: [00:18:47] Yeah, they do that for a reason, because your job pretty much is stressful and it kind of sucks. But all these perks really make it worth it. And now that COVID in this pandemic has like made everyone stay at home and not having these perks, it makes people realize, like, wait I actually don’t like my job. And it’s kind of a sad thing to see. But at the same time, we’re all so young. So we have so much time to find something else that we actually like. [00:19:10][23.4]

Sydney: [00:19:11] And you found where you really loved doing back in 2013 when you started creating YouTube videos and now you’re living in L.A., which is essentially the heart of the YouTube and influencer community. What has that been like? What has it been like living in Los Angeles? [00:19:25][14.4]

Amanda: [00:19:26] It’s honestly been so great living in L.A. because I feel constantly inspired by these new people that I’ll see they have their own clothing business or the some people will make their own candles or some will have their own shop on Etsy. And, you know, I literally just met this one person, he is working downtown as a security guard, also has his own podcast, also has his own clothing line. So people here are hustlers. And deep down, that’s totally what I am, too. I mean, and on top of that, I just like having a following. It’s made me feel very small and normal because everyone in L.A. has a following. I swear, like the most normal person you’ll talk to, not that normal is bad. I mean, like, literally I’m so normal too it’s like, well, wow. Like, I’m really so small in this big city. [00:20:16][50.1]

Sydney: [00:20:17] Is there anything that you don’t like about that experience? Can it be like a lot of pressure being in that environment? [00:20:23][6.3]

Amanda: [00:20:24] I would say it’s very, very common with a lot of YouTubers. And that is something that I don’t like. I’ll follow so many people and they’re all filming videos in L.A. and I’m like, it’s kind of cool following someone when their lifestyle is so different from yours. So that would be an end goal. [00:20:42][18.8]

Sydney: [00:20:43] Being surrounded then by, you were saying there are so many content creators and influencers in L.A., how do you approach your content so that it stands out? [00:20:52][9.1]

Amanda: [00:20:53] If I’m being honest, I mean, I would say my content is very similar to a lot of other YouTubers. One thing that I do try to do to separate myself from a lot of other ones is I don’t dress flashy, I don’t really like designer brands and not that that’s bad, but a lot of YouTubers, when they’re out here, it’s because they’re doing very well for themselves. They will buy houses and they’ll buy all this designer stuff and show you their beautiful lifestyle. And for me, I’m just like I don’t mind filming myself in pajamas all day, microwaving vegan mac and cheese and then watching Netflix, because that is literally me. So I try to just showcase my personality as much and then show people that I’m such an average, like normal person, just like living in Los Angeles, kind of like doing things to get by. So I guess that’s one thing that kind of lets me stand out. [00:21:44][50.9]

Sydney: [00:21:44] But it’s so cool, though, that because that’s something that you’re like, you don’t have to try to be yourself. It’s just being yourself. And I feel like that’s so much more relatable than being the like, you know, I’m making a video, but I’m wearing some high street wear, like $500 sweater. And I did notice when watching some of your videos, you did just have a very genuine, authentic personality that I think just kind of stands out on its own. [00:22:11][26.5]

Amanda: [00:22:12] Aw, thank you. [00:22:12][0.3]

Sydney: [00:22:14] What would you say were some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from managing your YouTube and like social media platforms all on your own? [00:22:23][8.4]

Amanda: [00:22:24] I would say one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned and that I’m still trying to incorporate now is being organized is so important when having your own business, because I’m naturally not a very organized person and I forget things all the time. Like I’ll have to write down everything that that I remember at the moment because I know I’ll forget it later on. I mean, if there’s anyone out there that wants to start their own business or maybe wants to start their own YouTube channel, I highly recommend picking a day out of the week to post, look at analytics, see when everyone is going on YouTube and then figure out, OK, maybe three days before, allocate some of that time for editing, find a day to shoot, and then also find days throughout the week to post on Instagram to be consistent. And, you know, it’s crazy because when you’re like being a social media influencer, you really have to be poppin’ on every single social media platform. And I get told this all the time to post on Tik Tok and be consistent. But guys, I swear, I’m such a boomer. I don’t know how to make Tik Toks, it’s so hard for me. [00:23:28][64.8]

Epsa: [00:23:29] Tik Tok is so hard to understand. I love Tik Tok, like just going on Tik Tok, just like watching it. I have to ask my thirteen year old sister how to edit a video and she’s like, “You’re so dumb Epsa, it’s like this.” But it’s so hard to record on that app, I swear to you I don’t get it. [00:23:42][13.4]

Amanda: [00:23:44] Right? I swear if you were born like in 1997 or 1998 or lower, it’s like Tik Tok is so hard. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but yeah it’s so difficult to use. So yeah I think being consistent was like one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned because if you’re not posting consistently, people will forget about your channel, unsubscribe, and coming back from that is even harder to do. [00:24:09][25.3]

Epsa: [00:24:12] Do you ever feel like there were times where school was really busy and you weren’t posting as much and you’re like, oh shoot, how do I — how would you bring yourself back into relevancy? [00:24:20][8.4]

Amanda: [00:24:21] Literally looking back, I don’t even know how I did it, because from freshman year to senior year, I pretty much posted like every week or every other week. There were definitely times where I had to be every other weekend that I was going for finals or something. Or midterms, which when you’re going to Cal Poly, or any college in the quarter system, that comes so quick. Yeah, it’s really, really hard. And I look back and I think if I didn’t go to college and if I just focused on YouTube right after high school, I possibly could have done a lot better on my channel. I maybe could have thousands of subscribers more than I do right now. But at the same time I look back and I’m like, I’ve made so many great experiences in college. I met some of my bestest friends. And I also have a degree out of it. So it’s really, really hard to balance the two. I mean, I’ll look at YouTubers that are going through college and, on God swear, I’ll see them and I think in my head, “Oh gosh. I really, really hope their channel survives.” Because I’ve seen this with so many YouTubers, their channel just slows down once they hit college because you want to live in the moment, right? There’s parties every weekend. You got tests to do, you got people to meet. So posting consistently gets really hard for sure. [00:25:39][78.2]

Epsa: [00:25:40] Yeah, no, totally. And I feel like you got the most bang for your buck. You still maintain your channel. You made awesome friends, you have a degree. You did that. [00:25:49][8.8]

Sydney: [00:25:52] You live in LA! [00:25:52][0.0]

Amanda: [00:25:52] Thanks, I tried so hard. [00:25:52][0.0]

Epsa: [00:25:52] We kind of wanted to talk about how you’re reimagining your content because when watching one of your most recent videos, “Why your 20s are stressful,” which is a great video, Sydney and I were both talking about it last night, we noticed people were being super open and vulnerable in the comments. So how can influencers and content creators reimagine the content they produce to create that open space and continue to have vulnerable conversations? [00:26:18][25.2]

Amanda: [00:26:19] That’s a great question. I think maybe if a YouTuber really wanted to be open about that and have, you know, talk about a deep conversation with their viewers, I would definitely say start off the video. Well, first of all, have a very calm setting, clean background, beautiful lighting. And just so people can focus on you and the words that you’re saying. And then also just starting off the video saying, “This is going to be an open space, if you are going through the same thing if you want to talk about it, let me know down below in the comments.” Definitely telling people that will remind them to do that. I think I mentioned it maybe two or three times in the video. And I think that’s why I got more comments than I expected. And a lot of those were like paragraphs, which is pretty crazy. So I think, honestly, if you’re going through anything that’s really difficult and this goes out to anyone that has like a platform or anything, make a video on it, talk about it, share your experience, because there are definitely going to be thousands of people out there that are going to do the same thing. And I think it’s so crazy, too, like our generation is connected more than ever with social media. But a lot of us continue to feel really alone when we’re going through something that’s very troubling. So I think we got really lucky having social media as a way to communicate so we can talk about it on Instagram stories or on Tik Tok or make a YouTube video and people will be there to support us or give their own story on how they’re doing. [00:27:47][88.1]

Amanda: [00:27:48] Awesome. And what is it, because we were reading the comments and we’re like, wow, people are being so honest and like in that video, you really sparked a conversation that’s like hard to have. And people may not have friends or family to talk about with. So just like, what does it feel like when you see those comments, when people reach out to you, like saying, hey, this is something I really needed to hear, thank you. [00:28:13][24.5]

Amanda: [00:28:14] Oh, my God, it feels so amazing. It’s kind of like when you see someone fall in the distance and you’re like, “Oh my God, let me help you” and they’re like, “Thank you so much.” You happen to have a Band-Aid on them and you just made their day. It’s kind of like that. It’s like, well, kind of feel like a superhero because I said some words online and those words made someone’s day or comforted them in some way because knowing that someone else is going through the same thing. So if anything, it’s a huge reminder for me knowing that there’s power behind having a lot of followers and whatever you say can definitely impact people in some sort of way. So it definitely makes me happy knowing that, you know, people like the things that I say. I’ve shared a lot of deep, dark things on my YouTube channel. I mean, I don’t know if I could share them here, but it’s like having an eating disorder. I talked about that when I was graduating high school and then my dad passing away and then now, like graduating college and going through this whole quarterlife crisis. People really relate to some of our worst moments in life because, you know, a lot of times you don’t hear it from other people. You know, we try to hide that. So people think that our life is so perfect and pristine. But, yeah, I think it’s really great, like sharing and knowing that I can have an impact in some sort of way. [00:29:36][82.3]

Epsa: [00:29:37] I think that’s so sweet. And like what you said, we all try and have like this picture perfect life on Instagram, it’s a highlight reel, as they say. And like social media is a highlight reel, but we all go through shit, like we all go through like the worst possible times. But again, like no one wants to be vulnerable, like these people we follow on social media. Some of the comments, people called you their role model. Someone was like twenty-eight, and she was like, “Amanda, you’re my role model.” So I think it’s so cool that literally just not having a video where you’re like, just not having content that’s so perfect and just being open, it kind of shows people, oh my God, like even someone that I follow and watch goes through the same thing that I do. It is quite refreshing. [00:30:20][42.4]

Amanda: [00:30:23] Yeah, definitely. I mean, like, it’s so crazy to seeing someone that’s older than me saying that, because I think to myself, oh yeah, when I’m twenty-eight, when I’m thirty, I’m going to have everything figured out. But that is so not the case. Like we’re still so young. And I mean, like I mentioned in the video, a lot of us trying to, you know, accomplish so many things in our twenties so that we can reap the benefits and enjoy life in our 30s, 40s and beyond. But, you know, life is really just like, it’s like we have so much time for everything. So it’s really comforting seeing people that are older than me saying, “Oh, yeah, I’m going through the worst time in my life right now, and, you know, and that’s OK.” If anything I do want to end it by saying, if there is anyone out there that wants to start their own channel or make their own Tik Tok or something, it’s never, ever too late to start and some of us will really just explode faster than others. So don’t feel discouraged if you’re making content and it’s not getting viewed or if it’s not getting the feedback that you want, because when you put in more work or if you manifest that thing, it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. [00:31:29][66.4]

Epsa: [00:31:30] I love that you mentioned manifesting it. I mean, it definitely works. But I just wanted to say, Amanda, thank you so much just for sitting down with us, sharing your experience and just giving some tips and tricks to people that could be interested in creating their own platform and just helping them understand the impact that their social media presence can have. And definitely a positive one. So, yeah, thanks again. We really appreciate it. And I’m sure our listeners do as well. [00:31:56][25.8]

Amanda: [00:31:57] Oh my god, of course. Thank you guys for having me. This was actually so much fun! [00:31:57][0.0]