Boasting nearly one million views and more than 17,000 subscribers, Anna Fang ’19 runs a successful YouTube channel that showcases the different facets of Cornell life to thousands of eager high school and college students from across the nation.
Fang’s channel highlights the ups and downs of college life in an attempt to help potential applicants learn more about what the Big Red experience entails.
Originally from Indiana, Fang was discouraged that she could not visit Cornell’s campus due to its considerable distance from her home. Two years later, during her sophomore year and after noting an absence of Cornell students on YouTube, Fang decided to begin making videos herself.
“Anna from Indiana” currently has more than 17,400 subscribers. Her most popular video, “A Day in My Life at Cornell University,” has garnered close to half a million views and nearly nine thousand likes.
Reflecting about her channel, Fang said her experience as a YouTuber has been mostly positive.
“It’s cool 99 percent of the time,” she said. “I have met a lot of people from it and this is the reason why I continue to do it … About one percent of the time, it can be frustrating.”
She pointed out one downside in particular: people calling her by her channel name instead of her first name.
“That can be frustrating because I don’t want to be always seen like that, especially in professional settings or in class,” she continued.
Fang shared that when she first started her channel, she did not envision it to be as far-reaching as it is today.
“In some ways it is cool to make content that reaches a wide audience but it is also really scary because I don’t want to advise people wrongly,” she said. “It’s a lot of pressure on someone who is only 21. I don’t know a lot of things myself.”
At first, she crafted content based on what she thought would be popular, but it was soon clear to Fang that doing it didn’t make her happier. She advised potential YouTubers to be themselves, and said she doesn’t dwell on the analytical aspects of her channel, such as her subscriber count.
“I have always found social media to be an unhealthy cycle that can start easily,” she shared. “If I try to make everyone happy, I will never be happy.”
When asked how much money she makes, Fang said there is no fixed amount. It depends on many factors, including how long people watch the videos and how many of them click on the ads.
Companies also sometimes send her products for review, she said. She has taken on a few offers, such as one for backpack brand Bagail, but said none of them require her to promote the product in her video.
“I am only promoting products that I have used and liked,” she said.
“I don’t put any livelihood on it,” she continued. “For me, what I fear is that when I start doing YouTube for money, I will start to attach myself too much to my social media, which I don’t think is healthy for anyone to do.”
Being both a YouTuber and a student is demanding, Fang said. Her most popular video took several weeks to edit, totalling over 20 hours. But she said that as she gains more experience, the stress has subsided.
Creating videos has also taught her useful skills. Fang said the videography skills she developed helped her get a job on CUAir, a project team in the engineering school.
After graduating from Cornell this spring, Fang will go to work for online shopping giant Amazon, and plans on continuing YouTube to share her life as a software engineer.
“The really cool thing about YouTube is when I look back now, even though I have only been on YouTube for a short amount of time, I can already see my growth as a person. It would be cool to let my YouTube grow with me,” she said.