In 2012, Eric Striffler uploaded a new, original video to YouTube six days out of the week.
So when the 21-year-old says his full-time job is to manage his channel, Pretty Much It, what he really means is “all the time.”
“It’s full time but it’s more than full time,” said Striffler, of Manorville, who turns 22 this month. “I’ll wake up in the morning and start working and then it’s 4 a.m. and I spent the whole day working on this.”
Striffler’s passion for what he does -- he and a handful of friends review movies and other media on Pretty Much It -- stands out so much that YouTube staffers selected him as one of their rising stars.
Striffler was one of 30 people chosen for the two-year-old YouTube program "NextUp," which singles out the most successful and creative channel managers as examples for others and brings them all together for workshops and training.
Austin Lau, head of partner programs for YouTube, said "NextUp" is designed to help channels reach the “next level, to a point where they are not hobbyists anymore but can make a good living off of YouTube.”
As part of the program, Striffler was sent to Los Angeles for a week in February, along with the rest of the "NextUp" inductees, for training in video production and YouTube features, seminars with YouTube staff and other successful channel managers and to collaborate on projects. The group will return to California for another weeklong session in March.
Lau said Striffler was chosen from among the thousands of applications because he has a unique product and his passion for the subject -- film -- shines through.
After programs ended one day while in L.A., Lau said Striffler asked if anyone else wanted to go to the movies.
“He said, ‘If anyone wants to go to the movies, I’m going to two tonight,’” Lau recalled. “Two, not one, two. He and the people he works with are just total movie buffs and movie geeks and they love to share their opinions and that’s one of the things they do really well.”
Lau said they were also impressed with Striffler’s ability to engage his audience by welcoming their opinions and suggestions for future movie reviews. Striffler also takes advantage of features specific to YouTube, like creating subchannels -- called shows -- and using annotation, which is when links and options to skip ahead pop up throughout the video sequence.
Striffler, who also operates two other YouTube channels, said he originally started making short films for YouTube, which is his real passion and which he continues to do on his personal channel.
In 2013, Striffler and his team have decided to be more selective about the videos they produce, but he said being a part of "NextUp" is a validation for him.
“Especially after all the work from last year,” he said, “this makes it all very worth it.”