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Your Business talks to Ari Kruger, director of the popular Suzelle DIY series, about what it takes to build a successful YouTube business…

While there’s no doubt that it takes a lot of creativity to start a business on YouTube, the basics of running a business – admin, marketing, PR, financial acumen – are crucial to your success. Here Kruger tells us more about how creativity and business skills have combined to create the success that is the Suzelle DIY series.

What inspired you to create the Suzelle DIY series?

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Julia Anastasopoulos

I’m a filmmaker and Julia (Anastasopoulos) is an actress and at the time we were only applying our trade within short bursts of commercial work. We decided that a great way for us to further harness our skill-sets would be to create a web-series which we could completely control and create ourselves. Julia is always speaking in different hilarious accents and the Afrikaans character was so endearing hat we decided to explore her as a vehicle for our project. Julia is also incredibly creative and good with DIY and it seemed like a natural fit to have the character play in that world. We also thought that most people are searching for ‘how to’ videos on YouTube and it would be a great way for an audience to find the videos organically and question if Suzelle was real.

While we hoped that it would go viral we never really anticipated that it would get as big as it has gotten (especially within a such a short time frame).

Were you surprised by the incredible reaction and viral reach of the series?

We always felt that we were onto a good thing from the beginning as we received positive reactions from our family and friends. The episodes are short and bite-sized and therefore are easy to watch which is important for the online space. We watched our audience steadily grow with every new episode that we uploaded and while we hoped that it would go viral we never really anticipated that it would get as big as it has gotten (especially within a such a short time frame of a year).

What are some of the key business benefits that have been derived as a result of Suzelle’s success?

Having established a YouTube channel with a growing audience really allows you to dictate your terms and conditions when working with a brand. We’re going through a very interesting time where advertising a product or creating brand awareness can be done in a more honest and subtle way. It’s been fun working with different brands and finding this honest approach through Suzelle’s character, and allowing her to engage with these different brands.

What has been the biggest challenge the Suzelle series has faced thus far, from a business point of view?

The biggest challenge has been making sure that we’re always remaining true to the character and the brand that we’ve created. We’re very grateful to our audience that follow Suzelle and we’re constantly ensuring that whatever we put out is entertaining and never too product or brand heavy. We’re also constantly challenging ourselves to create new episodes which surprise our audience and take the character in a new direction.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting out?

My advice is to find an idea or concept that you believe in and push ahead with it full steam. If the concept is good it will find an audience — and if it doesn’t work, think of something else and try that.

We are in the early stages of a creative industry boom in South Africa, which s means that it’s a good time for aspiring creatives wanting to get into business. Perhaps it’s time to follow some world trends and get a head start on your business endeavour here before anyone else does.

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