Ryan Holmes isn’t a household name, but so far 4 million people have watched what he’s posted on the Internet.
Holmes, a 23-year-old Warwick native, began uploading videos to YouTube on Sept. 19, 2009, and recently hit a milestone: 200 uploaded videos and 4 million channel views. Holmes’ channel is called RyanHolmesTV, and 12,700 people have subscribed to it. It’s Holmes’ humor, characters and antics that keep his loyal viewers coming back for more.
Holmes began recording videos in high school with a couple of friends, but after graduation they went their separate ways and their hobby fizzled. But Holmes still had an itch to scratch, and began recording videos on his own. He started posting them to YouTube, and created a routine – post a video twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday. Eventually, Holmes decided to simplify and post once a week, and now uploads a new video every Friday at 10 a.m.
Holmes’ videos sometimes contain other people, but mostly it’s just him on screen, performing a skit, improvising jokes and becoming multiple characters.
Holmes describes his sense of humor as “dry” and “sarcastic,” and occasionally he gets a little crass or dirty. Mostly, Holmes is just kooky and creative, turning household items like sponges and lamps into his sidekicks.
Holmes plays four different characters: himself; his identical twin, Bryan; Clay, a bookish nerd; and Ryina, his female alter ego.
From watching just a small sampling of his videos, it’s easy to tell that Holmes is comfortable in front of the camera, though he said he was never one for the stage when he was younger. His first and last theatrical performance took place in the second or third grade, when he played a bear in “The Gingerbread Man.” Though he wasn’t much for drama, Holmes’ true passion was always drawing, and his mother, Susan, said his creativity never ran dry.
Today, Holmes draws inspiration from other YouTube personalities, some of whom make their living by posting videos to the popular site. Holmes said some of the most popular YouTube “celebrities” make about $4 million a year.
Those who profit from YouTube do so by placing advertisements on their site, earning pennies for ad views and clicks. Holmes said users average $1,000 profit for every million viewers.
Holmes is also involved with YouNow.com, a newer, live-streaming video experience. Videos on YouTube are pre-recorded, but YouNow gives people the chance to interact in real time. Holmes attended a gathering at the YouNow headquarters in New York City in August, and had the chance to meet others like himself.
On average, Holmes’s videos take about one to three hours to film, and then an additional one to three hours to edit. Originally, Holmes used his mother’s table lamps to light his videos, but now he has a professional set of umbrella lights.
“The lampshades would be off my lights and my living room would be in complete shambles,” said his mother, Susan. “You could always tell when Ryan was filming.”
Now he has his own apartment to use as a studio. Holmes also upgraded his digital camera and uses editing software to add special effects to his footage. Though Holmes said it’s not always the quality of the video that makes it popular, it’s the content.
One of Holmes’ most-watched videos has more than 1 million views, but most of his videos average between 1,500 and 2,000 views. Five of his videos have more than 100,000 views, and his channel averages 200,000 views per month. Holmes said the number of views his videos receive depend on the material – when he spoofs a hot topic or famous person, his viewership skyrockets.
Holmes also has another channel to which he uploads “vlogs” or video blogs, recorded journal entries. He said that channel isn’t nearly as popular as RyanHolmesTV, on which he posts his skits. Overall, Holmes has recorded and posted nearly 500 videos.
The majority of his viewers are teens and “tweens” under the age of 20. Most of his viewers are from the U.S., but he does have fans in the U.K., China and Russia.
Though he gets a lot of positive feedback, Holmes said people sometimes send him hateful messages. In a recent video, Holmes took questions from his viewers and answered them. He answered serious questions like “Who inspired you to do YouTube videos?” and not-so-serious questions like, “Do you like rubber ducks?”
Holmes, who earned his associate’s degree from CCRI and now works as a dishwasher, said his dream is to support himself on his videos. He makes money off of his videos now, but not enough to drop his other job and still afford his rent.
“It would be awesome if I could make a living off it and make people laugh,” he said.
Should his dreams not become a reality, Holmes hopes he can find a way to put his talents and passion to good use behind the scenes as a cameraman, writer or director.
“I don’t think my acting is that good,” said Holmes with a laugh.
Holmes isn’t sure what the future holds for him in the long-term, but for now, he plans to continue making his videos and see where they take him.
“I would like to be famous,” he said. “That would be awesome.”
Watch Ryan Holmes’ videos at www.YouTube.com/RyanHolmesTV (Warning: some adult themes and language)