Everything you need to know about Norfolk’s rising YouTube star
- Credit: Archant
What were you doing when you were 22? You probably weren’t reaching an audience of thousands by talking about football, charity work and mental health like Ellis Platten
It’s not often I’d ask an interviewee what they’re wearing but when you’re talking to a serious football shirt collector, you feel it’s apt.
“Porto away, the yellow one from a couple of years ago,” is the response from Ellis Platten, a Norfolk born-and-bred football addict who is starting to do big things on YouTube.
“I have to be careful what shirts I wear,” he says. “I’ve got a cat and every time he claws a rare shirt he could be taking a tenner off the price”.
Ellis, who is 22, loves football shirts, football culture and, perhaps most importantly, making football-related videos as his passionate hobby continues to envelop his young life. Such is his success and confidence in his own ability that, from next week, he’s ditching the day job to become a full time YouTuber.
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“Whether it’s the right thing to do or not, I don’t know,” he says.
“I leave full time work on September 18 and that’s when I will be concentrating solely on making videos. I think at the moment it would be detrimental to juggle both things so I am taking the plunge. I don’t want to wait until I am older and then look back and think it was the wrong thing to do.
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“University was a possible route but I wanted to be more advanced in three years time and I thought I’d get more experience if I just went into it. I looked at a sports and broadcasting course but I thought I could probably do more on YouTube now.
“I’m 22 now, the first videos I made were when I was 17 or 18 and I have improved a lot. The thing is they take time to make and you need to spend far more time producing them than actually filming them. At the moment I don’t have the time to put in the effort I want to put in. They say that anyone can make a YouTube video which is the problem. Anyone can make one, but it’s about trying to shine in a saturated market.”
From Hemsby originally but until recently living in Gorleston, Ellis has moved to Ely over the summer to be with his girlfriend Jodie as she begins university life in Cambridge. From there he’ll continue to work on his YouTube channel, which has become something of a digital CV.
The YouTube videos Ellis makes are largely split between him watching matches and filming the whole experience – from the journey there, the ground, the fans, even the pies and ones about football shirts. Some of the shirt videos involve trolling around Norfolk and Suffolk’s many charity shops filming his football shirt hunts, others are him opening mystery parcels of shirts he’s purchased online. He naturally hopes that, with more time to focus on videos, he can do an altogether more polished job.
“I want the videos to be better and some of them aren’t to the standard I want them to be, I am very self critical, you have to be. I take on board constructive criticism and even when I make a good video that attracts lots of positive comments, I tend to ignore them and focus on the anonymous negative comments. I think it’s the only way to improve and I would be very naive to ignore them. I try not to take them to heart but sometimes it’s hard not to.
“I’ve never been taught how to present but I am learning. Being in front of the camera is very different to how I am normally. I talk with my hands a lot and when I watch my videos back I am often looking at where my hands are to make sure I don’t move them around too much. I’m quite self critical that I don’t touch my face or fold my arms.”
The Away Days videos have regularly taken Ellis into Europe – to Portugal, the Czech Republic and Italy in recent years, but he’s filmed at all kinds of grounds, from Carrow Road to King’s Lynn. Last weekend, itching to do a video after six months without football to watch in the flesh, he made the journey to non-league Sporting Khalsa in the West Midlands with pal Ben Gibbs. It still picked up 22,000 views.
His biggest challenge
His channel Away Days has almost 90,000 subscribers with some videos racking up big numbers of views – an away day at MK Dons last season has amassed close to 350,000 views. But interspersed between all the banter about shirts, players and football fan culture are some videos that show his more serious side.
Last year he started an appeal to raise money for two charities, Boots to Africa and the National Children’s Football Alliance by getting people to donate shirts that he would auction and in August he bravely posted a video about his mental health struggles.
Despite being a popular YouTuber, Ellis, who is seen by thousands of people, admits that has issues with his looks.
“I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder which means I don’t like my appearance,” he says. “For example, I don’t like people to see me without a top on. Today for example, it’s 10.30am and all I’ve had is a glass of water and I feel full up and heavy.
“I was worried that if I filmed a video and put it on YouTube that it may not resonate as I find that when people talk about mental health online it sometimes becomes a ‘me, me me’ video rather than ‘this is what I have and how it feels and how to get out of it’, that’s what I wanted to do, to help people.
“For that video I didn’t really care about how many people saw it, I just wanted to help one person and that would have made it worth while.
“It doesn’t get in the way of what I do, I kind of live with it as it’s for the greater good that I am on YouTube making videos but I wanted people to know that it’s there.”
As it was, the video called My Mental Health Struggles has been viewed more than 22,000 times and has seen a hugely positive reaction with most people commending someone of 22 for speaking out so openly.
Most of his other videos tend to be a little lighter, something he is keen to build upon as he looks one day to get a full-time presenting role.
“It’s about being natural but about people wanting to buy into you as a person. I try and come across as light-hearted, I like the way James Corden used to be on A League of Their Own. I think people go on to YouTube for entertainment and escapism which you don’t always get on other websites – it’s not as political as, say, Twitter.
“In terms of the current football market, the website I look up to most is Copa 90, the YouTuber I like most is Spencer FC. We all make similar content, but it’s about trying to find something in the crowded football market space – something different that fans will pick up on.”
Making money online
“You can make money on YouTube per 1,000 views. The more views means the more money – that would allow me to scrape a living but the real money is made on the site through brand deals and sponsored content. I have a deal with a football app called Fotmob which involves making videos for them plus mentioning their app on my own videos. I have to be careful as I don’t want viewers to be put off that I am plugging them for 60-90 seconds, so the skill is to drop a mention in during the video to keep them happy and also keep the viewers interested.
“Income varies greatly on YouTube, it’s powered by advertising so while December is a great month as there’s plenty of adverts on there tied in to Christmas products, January and February can be lean months. But with this year and the way high street spending has been hit, it could end up being very positive for YouTube as more money will be spent on online advertising in the run up to Christmas.”
Despite hailing from the Norfolk coast, Ellis is a Leeds fan and very excited about the first match of the season against Liverpool, the first time he’s been able to watch his side in the top flight since he was a young boy.
“I’m a Leeds fan from my mum’s side of the family – it’s a big season for me and them coming up as it’s been 16 years out of the Premier League but I think they will stay up and finish 16th. The manager (Marco Bielsa) is brilliant, I’ve never known a manager to get a club like he does with Leeds. The worry is that he’ll leave after a season maybe due to his age, but hopefully he can keep Leeds up.
“I have a few Leeds shirts but I only really collect shirts from international and foreign teams as I wouldn’t want to wear a shirt of another club in England and be accused of supporting them. I do have a Norwich shirt, the early 90s one which was given to me by my grandad. It was his and he used to wear it to the games – he used to cycle in from North Walsham to the home games.
“I’ve got about 110 shirts in total and list them on the app Depop, which is a very popular way of selling second hand clothes online.
“With football shirts at the moment it seems we’re going through a bit of a bubble. A shirt that was worth around £60 five years ago is now worth £300 to the right collector. Something from the early 90s that wasn’t designed to be really collected is now considered to be a design classic. They’ve become important pieces of design, not only loved by hipsters, but now they are thought of sustainable fashion items.”
Click here to see Ellis’s YouTube site