Coder, Designer, Life Caster, YouTuber, TV Host, Actress, Podcaster, Twitch Streamer, Film Maker, Author-is there anything that Justine Ezarik CAN’T do? Here’s the story of one of YouTube’s first-ever creator superstars, iJustine.
A misfit finds her home
Justine Ezarik was born on the 20 of March 1984 in the small town of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Justine always had a passion to try new things and very early on, she found her way to a video camera.
She used to take her parents’ video cameras and film herself around the house. She would then edit these videos-all for her own amusement. At the time, there was no platform where one could just upload their own videos.
Throughout her life, she was a self-described ‘misfit’. While all the other girls were interested in traditionally “girly” activities, Justine found herself much more fascinated by things most boys were interested in. For example, she was the only girl in her computer programming class.
Her love for tech meant she spent a lot of time on the internet. In fact, every time a new social media came up, she was on it within the first week. She started to find more of “her people” online-people who had the same interests and hobbies as her. The misfit had found a home.
Justine graduated from Bentworth High School in 2002. With honors, we might add. After high school, she went to the Pittsburgh Technical Institute, where she studied multimedia and graphic design. During her years there she added more skills to her already large repertoire.
She graduated in 2004 and swiftly moved into the job market-mainly doing graphic design jobs. In fact, she even got a gig on the team that ran the social media accounts of Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh
Giving YouTube a shot
Her curiosity and her many talents were paying off. 8. In 2005, 3 ex-PayPal employees started a little video-sharing company called YouTube. In May of 2006, Justine started her own YouTube channel. And almost immediately uploaded a video. What was the video, the tech queen of YouTube uploaded?
A 46-second film of her making oatmeal.
She would go on to start uploading more frequently that year. Initially, she put out short, fun skits that she wrote and acted in. 10 videos later, she had started racking up serious views. The early success of her channel got her invited to the 2006 Yahoo! talent show, where she was a finalist. She filmed her experience at the show and uploaded the same to her channel.
It was the first time she realized that there was an opportunity to “this YouTube thing”.
A shift in focus
But before she went all in into YouTube, another opportunity came along. Twitch. But not Twitch as we know it today. Back in the day, Twitch was called Justin.tv. And it was a “life-streaming” site where users were encouraged to live stream their lives 24/7. Justine signed up-she was the second steamer to sign on.
For 6 entire months, Justine walked around with a camera 24/7 live-streaming every minute of her life. This included when she met her friends, had family dinners and even on dates. And whilst this did increase her popularity, it proved to be costly
Streaming ALL THE TIME was causing her problems She had rifts with friends and family who were annoyed by cameras being around constantly. Plus she wasn’t enjoying the experience herself-she felt like she was one bad day away from a nervous breakdown. 6 months after she began, she quit life-streaming. Leaving Justin.TV behind, Justine refocussed her efforts on YouTube. It wouldn’t be long before she once again began making waves.
Going all in
On the 14 of August, 2007 , she uploaded the video ‘IPHONE BILL’. In this video, she showed the 300-page-bill she received from AT&T for her iPhone. She ended the video with a frame that said “Use e-billing. Save a forest.” The video was a huge hit, receiving millions of views. In fact, just a week later in AT&T changed how they sent bills-opting to go with text messages instead. Coincidence? We think not.
Justine kept uploading videos- some interviews; some skits and some about her LOVE for Steve Jobs. These videos got hundreds of thousands of views, firmly setting herself up as one of YouTube’s first successes. Seeing the opportunity, Justine decided to go all-in on her YouTube ambition.
She packed her bags to relocate to California for more opportunities in the entertainment space.
She soon got results bigger than even what she had expected. Even before influencer marketing was a thing, she received sponsorships from brands like Intel and Ford. After moving to The Golden State, the channel took on a new life. She started experimenting with her content-she posted more lifestyle videos and more interviews. She even picked up what would become a new fan favourite-song parodies.
Each of the parodies picked up view counts well into the millions.
With her videos consistently hitting big numbers, Justine reached her biggest milestone yet in 2011. She hit the 1 Million subscriber mark. To nobody’s surprise, she uploaded a video celebrating the milestone in an Apple store.
Success didn’t come without its drawbacks, however. Throughout the early 2010’s Justine was one of the most prolific YouTube stars there was. She had 5 channels(each with one of her interests) on which she was uploading 30 videos a week. Incredibly, she shot, edited and produced all of those videos.
Inevitably, she suffered burnout and realized this was not a feasible long-term plan. She scaled back and went back to filming the stuff she really loved. This included just three things:- tech, travel and gaming.
Justine’s here to stay
Justine’s combination of charisma, tech-savvy and good looks were something that brands could see the value in. And way before influencer marketing was a thing, Justine received sponsorships from Intel and Ford.
Just as people had started accepting YouTube as a part of life, Justine was quickly becoming one of its most well-known stars. And this fame allowed her to make a cross-over into mainstream media. In 2009, she appeared in an episode of Law and Order. A year later, she made an appearance in Criminal Minds and The Bold and the Beautiful. It was one of the first instances of a YouTube star getting mainstream attention.
Today, Justine has 6.8 million subscribers and she’s worth an estimated $2M. She’s been named in Time’s 100 most influential people list(2014); she’s directed a movie and is even an NYT best-selling author(for her autobiography).
But the best part is Justine still has the same enthusiasm as when she started. This enthusiasm is one of the things she prioritizes. Not the views or the dollars. It’s the love of following her curiosity, learning and constantly challenging herself.
What’s iJustine been upto?
Justine’s pivoted to primarily being a tech product reviewer on the platform. From phones to watches to earphones to cameras, iJustine goes across the board giving her reviews about the newest tech release to hit the market.
With her techie knowledge and her well-documented Apple fanboy credentials, she even got to interview Tim Cook after the Apple launch in Sep 2021.
iJustine has also started a podcast with her sister, Jenna called Same Brain in 2020. In it, the pair talk about everything that interests them from current events, gaming and tech releases.