Krzysztof is a 8+ year YouTube researcher who spends hours researching, analyzing, and uncovering YouTube trends, challenges, and media.
Who Is Shane Dawson?
Shane Dawson, born Shane Lee Yaw, is a 30 year old YouTube creator that's been on the platform for over a decade and has accumulated 30+ million subscribers across his YouTube channels.
He was one of the earliest top creators and has some of the most successful channels to date.
Outside of YouTube, he has acted in a few movies, directed his own films/mini-shorts, released multiple albums, and was a 2x best-selling author for his books "I Hate Myselfie: A Collection of Essays by Shane Dawson" and "It Gets Worse".
Yet despite some mainstream grabs, it's YouTube where he has shined the most, and his reach on the platform would shock a lot of people who have never heard of Shane or don't understand YouTube.
The truth is that Shane Dawson is the king of YouTube, and if you don't believe me, then read on to find out why.
1. Shane Dawson's Docu-Series
Shane Dawson's venture into episodic television or the reality docuseries has been one of the most important transitions that I've ever seen a youtuber make.
In fact it's been such a difference maker that it may have legitimized YouTube and their creators for the very first time. Truth be told, the docuseries is doing something that their Premium service shows have never been able to do; make it worth watching.
Honestly before Cobra Kai came along, their Premium or Red shows have always been sort of a joke, and most people who have subscribed to it only do it for the ad-free, background playing experience.
But Shane's episodic series could change all of that.
What Makes Shane's Docu-Series so Special?
- Authentic Style
- Slick, Contextual Edits
- Drama & Humor Combo
- Netflix Level Marketing
- Multiple Variations
- Real-time Editing
Nothing in his videos ever feels cheap or dishonest. There's a very personal, authentic feel to his docuseries that's easy to connect with. Some of his most compelling videos were able to humanize people whom outsiders might see as monsters.
His "Jeffree Star" series was able to explore a character and explore what makes them who they are. By the end of that series, people could actually relate to Jeffree and see the person and humanity behind the glamour.
Slick, Contextual Edits
The editing is top notch by YouTube standards, and it makes each series feel perfectly paced. Shane's videos have contextual awareness and often feature clips or snippets to explain something you might otherwise not understand.
They help set the tone and provide background information for anyone whose unfamiliar with the topic or person being addressed.
The audio/music cues are also timely executed though the dramatic stings do feel a bit amateurish. Still, it's amazing that two people, Shane Dawson and his editor/camera-person Andrew Siwicki, were able to piece together a Netflix-ready series that would require a full team behind it.
Drama & Humor Combo
Shane has a close group of friends behind him (including his camera-person) that make the conversations feel more natural and give the dramatic situations some much needed levity.
The audience and particularly his fan base will appreciate the lighter moments. The humorous undertones throughout each episode are perfectly suited to Shane's style, and it's an evolution of his past comedic skits.
Netflix Level Marketing
Shane's presence on YouTube and social media play a huge role in marketing his series, however; he's also learned how to market to a wider audience.
Every series feels like must see TV and some of his more recent multi-episodes have reached Netflix/Cable level marketing.
Every series thus far has felt very fresh with videos ranging from ghost hunting adventures to reconnecting with his father to helping out a struggling creator.
One of his most popular series was Shane's investigation into TanaCon, which was a poorly planned and disastrous YouTube creator event. That entire series had a criminal/mystery vibe to it and is easily on par with standard cable programming.
Because he's an independent creator, there are no guidelines to his videos and he's in control of every topic/subject.
The most fascinating development that came out of Shane's recent docuseries was that he was able to see people's feedback on social media and address any major issues in the next episode.
I've never seen a docuseries get reworked based on what the audience said because it would be impossible to do so. Youtubers like Shane are interactive, and they've built their success by connecting to their fan bases.
Whether or not Shane planned on this, he's created a new form of interactive video where he's able to get immediate feedback and re-edit the series as he sees fit. It's a remarkable achievement that no other company has done before.
2. YouTube Trendsetter
Shane Dawson was one of the first youtubers to create edgy skits, put out music videos/albums, create a podcast, make short-films, direct a movie, write a book, and currently make documentary style videos.
He was also able to address more serious issues including his terrible childhood, obesity/body issues, and past/current controversies.
He wasn't the only one to do these things, but whenever he did something first, everyone would follow shortly after. Shane even talked about it on his videos/podcasts.
Obviously as a 2nd gen youtuber (post 2008) he didn't start every trend, but I think it's pretty clear that his presence was felt on the platform and it indirectly affected other creators on it.
3. Jack of All Trades
Shane has done it all as a YouTuber, and that's what kept him relevant for so long.
Most people don't even realize how much he's transformed in his videos alone.
Before becoming one of the most youtubers of 2018, he made food, slime, and nonsensical challenge videos geared towards younger fans. However he did mix it up with darker, horror-themed conspiracy videos proving he still had that edge of year's past.
Regardless of the more mature content, most people outside his fan base didn't take him seriously and thought he was simply riding the trends. To them it didn't matter how much he achieved in the past, they only fixated on the negative.
It took a momentous content shift for people to finally take notice and even then it wasn't enough for some.
4. Kind & Humble Personality
As a person, Dawson is probably one of the most tolerant and kindest youtubers around.
His genuine humility and modesty comes out in every video he's in, and it's clear that he's not just doing it for the money. He has helped people in the past, he's shown consideration towards those who have suffered, and he experiences real guilt whenever someone's hurting.
His fan base is always quick to point out how caring and kind he is towards others even when he's being criticized. During the disastrous events at TanaCon, he offered to refund everyone who endured the pain of it despite not being involved (guest appearance only).
He has done multiple docuseries where he's tried to help fellow creators get back on top, and he has humanized people who were viewed as inhuman or cartoon characters to the public.
There's no question his personality is the reason why his videos are so successful, and it's what keeps people from moving on to someone else.
5. Survived Multiple Controversies
Being edgy a decade ago is coming back to haunt people, and Shane knows that better than most.
He's endured scandals in the past, and his most famous one was when he tried to imitate talk show host Wendy Williams for a video. Unfortunately his way of imitating an African American host was incredibly offensive and drew vast criticism from YouTube and the media.
For a long time, other creators and media groups saw Shane as problematic and even racist for his tone-deaf portrayal. It's arguably the reason why YouTube frequently demonetized his content and excluded him from their trending page despite having billions of views.
Shane's had more recent scandals including a 6+ year old re-upload of a not so candid monologue about children on his podcast.
A channel uploaded an audio clip of Shane talking about a young person in a humorous yet negative light which drew glances throughout the community. Shane has since made an apology video and vehemently denied the rumors, which were proven to be slanderous and taken out of context.
Finally, Shane drew criticism on his "Jake Paul" series for turning mental illnesses like anti-social personality disorder into entertaining fodder. In part 2 of that series, he made it seem like sociopaths were mostly violent and similar to psychopaths. He also used horror-like music to undermine the disorders.
Shane did apologize for the mishaps and even re-edited his series to address people's concerns over the subject matter.
Very few youtubers would take the time to listen to people and try to fix things, and Shane has shown he can tackle any controversy with dignity and respect.
6. Inspired YouTube Creators
Today's wave of young, powerful youtubers like Tana Mongeau, Ricky Dillon, and James Charles were in some ways directly inspired by Shane Dawson to create their own content and thrive on the platform.
Because Shane is one of the longest lasting youtubers, he's not only built a legacy for himself but for others creators. There's no question that his current success will continue to impact others for years to come, and it will only legitimize YouTube further.
Shane has been passed over by mainstream media, but he's managed to ignite a new wave of creation that people don't even realize exists. I bet a lot of people reading this don't even know who Shane Dawson is or why he's such an important digital figure.
The divide between the old and younger generations is so vast that people would be shocked to discover his last few docuseries have garnered more views per episode than the most successful shows on Cable or Netflix.
You may not know who he is or care, but a lot of people do, and they understand why it's a big deal.
7. Inspired Young Viewers
A lot of young people today want to become youtubers, and I guarantee Shane will be one of the main reasons why.
YouTube is a young person's platform (created in 2005), and many viewers today grew up with it. Shane has also been around for 10+ years, and he's one of the biggest pioneers of YouTube today.
We've already seen some of his former viewers achieve their own fame, and we'll see plenty more do so in the future. I can imagine kids today watching his series becoming inspired, and they may one day create their own revolutionary content.
The next wave of youtubers will be much smarter, craftier, and more equipped to handle the ups and downs of YouTube. They'll be business people, creatives, and entrepreneurs, and they'll have Shane to thank for paving that path over a decade ago.
8. He's a Talented Editor
Shane and his editor Andrew make a fantastic editing team, and it's the main reason why Shane's content is so fun to watch.
We forget how important editors are to any platform whether it be a movie, TV show, Netflix special, or a YouTube series, and it often takes a surprise docuseries to remind us why.
Shane Dawson's "Mind of Jake Paul" docuseries doesn't just use jump cuts and quick edits to move the series along; it contains the whole arsenal.
There's well placed background music, contextual clips that match what's being said or filmed, flashback sequences, and stylized camera work that keeps viewers engaged.
One of my favorite edited sequences was at the end of Part 5 ("Jake Paul" series) because it serves as a excellent teaser as well as a standalone piece.
9. He's a Genuine Comedian
Shane Dawson would have been a comedian if YouTube didn't exist because he's genuinely very funny and entertaining.
You don't get 10-20 millions of views per video if you can't keep your audience engaged, and Shane has had years to perfect his craft.
Obviously not everyone will find him funny, but I don't think they'll be bored of him. Dawson can also switch it on whenever he's on camera, and it's clearly carried over from his older videos where he primarily did character work.
His humor isn't as edgy as it once was, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. Personally I think he's the male version of Kathy Griffin with the self-deprecating humor, lightning fast commentary, and varied facial reactions.
His unique style blends in perfectly with his content, and he can make a 50 minute video feel like 5.
10. Rode the YouTube Wave
He started with comedy shorts, then music videos, drama-parody skits, YouTube collaborations, trendy content (slime, food tasting), and finally reality docuseries.
He's ridden nearly ever wave of YouTube and has created his own in the process. The ride hasn't always been smooth, but he managed to get through it and is now riding the biggest wave yet.
For most high-end youtubers, the average length of relevancy is 3-4 years. You start off small, then slowly rise, hit a peak, and slowly decline. That's how the curve works for most creators, but Shane has shattered the mold and even created his own YouTube curve.
As mentioned, there are very few youtubers who are as successful now than when they peaked. Even the most subscribed individual youtuber, PewDiePie, is no longer as relevant as he was 2+ years ago.
Shane Dawson isn't the biggest youtuber and he was never number one, but that doesn't matter. He's done something no other digital star has with content that transcends the platform. Shane was always the trendsetter that YouTube ignored, but at last he's shattered the barrier.
Creators are now realizing that Shane Dawson was always the king of YouTube, and he finally has his crown.
Joey on July 03, 2020:
This didn’t age well...
FlourishAnyway from USA on October 21, 2018:
He’s managed to innovate and successfully market himself in a way others could only dream of. My daughter goes to school with who she swears is a prominent YouTuber but I’ve never heard of him. He’s using college as a backup or supplement to his YouTube ambitions.
Liz Westwood from UK on October 17, 2018:
I learned a lot from this article. I would be happy with a fraction of his followers reading my hubs!