Thousands of people are watching Lottie Smalley go through college at the University of Georgia.
A fourth-year public relations student, Smalley thrives on visual creativity and efficient communication, sharing videos weekly with the 80,000 subscribers to her college lifestyle YouTube Channel.
Developing compelling content, editing video, hosting discussions and curating social media audiences are all skills she’s learning and refining at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Smalley is using professor guidance and peer feedback to build on a multi-year foundation of content creation.
“I started my YouTube channel seven years ago as a creative outlet and never imagined it would grow to the following I have now,” Smalley said. “My videos started out as middle school makeup looks and must-haves, but as I grew, my channel grew alongside me.”
The Chattanooga, Tennessee, native grew up performing through dance and theatre. She had seen other fashion videos online and knew she could bring her voice to the medium. Her comfort on a live stage naturally translated to hosting for a global digital crowd.
“I was bored during the summer and had all the equipment and skills necessary to make my first video, so I just decided to go for it, and I’m so glad I did,” Smalley said.
Smalley has taken her audience through fashion trends, college admission, study abroad and a prestigious summer internship with The Coca-Cola Co.
On the third day of that internship, Smalley joined supervisors on the set of a commercial shoot for Sprite.
“I love all things video, so this was a dream for me,” Smalley said.
A few weeks later, she saw the ad premiere at the BET Awards as part of a new Sprite campaign.
Smalley brings her audience with her through those internships and study abroad trips, but she also focuses on smaller, everyday moments that collectively create authenticity and relatability. She tours her apartment, details the contents of her college backpack and shares her favorite apps for students. Her video “How I’m a Paperless Student in College!” has more than half a million views.
“My favorite creative outlet has always been YouTube,” said Smalley. “I feel like I can be most authentically myself in my YouTube videos whereas Instagram and other social media can tend to portray a sense of false perfection.”
Smalley’s post-college path is still very much unpaved and, in some ways, that is preferred. She is not chasing a particular dream job, but instead leaning on her creative convictions and interests to guide her pending professional destination.
“The social and digital media landscape is ever-changing, so the perfect job for me might not even exist yet,” said Smalley.
She is likely to explore work as a social media content creator for a digital company or a creative director for a public relations agency.
Before any of that, Smalley still has plenty of videos to produce as she shares her journey to graduation with her audience one YouTube story at a time.