Money makers: The business of beauty vlogging

Tanya Burr © Getty images
Beauty vlogger Tanya Burr

Tanya Burr, 27, is a “beauty vlogger”: she broadcasts videos on YouTube about makeup and fashion. Burr, the daughter of a lorry driver, started her YouTube channel seven years ago, filming herself doing makeup in her bedroom in Norwich. She now has more than 3.5 million followers and earns more than £20,000 a month in advertising. She also has her own makeup brand and a book deal.

At 6am every morning, Tanya is woken up by her dog, who is then parked with a “babysitter”, so Tanya can get on with her day, she tells The Sunday Times. She begins with breakfast in Mayfair, to talk business with her PA. Her schedule is packed: filming videos, writing her blog and working on her makeup line, as well as acting lessons. “I already have an LA agent and I’m doing auditions. So excited!”

Her friends are also living their dreams, she says – one as a “celebrity dresser”, another as a teacher “at an amazing school”. “We’re all owning it in our own industries, which is so cool.” But for all the glamour, she is working never-ending hours: “When it’s your own business, it’s hard to stop.”

Taking on the touts

Phil Hutchinson, 41, wants to squeeze ticket touts out of the market. Fans who are furious about paying thousands for the latest Adele or Justin Bieber concert will hope he succeeds. Currently, ticket touts hoover up tickets as soon as they’re released, so fans are used to finding their favourite shows booked up in minutes. But Hutchinson, a former record label executive, thinks he has the “answer to getting rid of touting”, he tells The Times.

Hutchinson first got “very fed up” with touts when he was managing bands. Having organised tours at ticket prices of £20, he’d be inundated with complaints about tickets being sold at £60 or £100. Online touts are worse than those who deal in the streets, he says, trading tickets in bulk. When they misjudge the prices, “there are rows and rows of empty seats… They exploit the passion of fans.”

So he has launched an app, called Dice, which he runs from Shoreditch, east London. Hutchinson is a self-declared “Luddite” and the app is hardly high-tech – yet it has won £2m of funding, with backers including Demis Hassabis, a co-founder at Google’s artificial intelligence division.

Dice simply gives users a guide of upcoming gigs and ticket sales and does away with printable tickets. Users scan their phone at the venue door, making it impossible to resell tickets. “We’ve seen 99% of touting eliminated by that and we will get to 100% because we are still learning,” he says. The app has sold more than a million tickets since Dice was set up in 2014.

Experiments in chocolate

Ivory Coast produces a third of the world’s cocoa supply. But less than a third of those beans are turned into finished products locally. Dana Mroueh’s small business, Mon Choco, is trying to change that, she tells the Associated Press. The 27-year-old wants to introduce the country to the taste of luxury chocolate, handling production from bean to bar, winning back the local market from multinationals overseas.

Cocoa beans © iStock“I think it’s criminal for the planters and for the Ivorians who don’t know the taste of chocolate,” Mroueh tells the Associated Press. Her chocolate bars are 100% local and her prices are aimed at upper-class customers, with prices of $5 apiece and experimental flavours, including chilli and sea salt. The government is also doing its bit. Billboards in Abidjan, the nation’s biggest city, are urging consumers to buy Ivorian chocolate.

Other local makers have also sprung up. Axel Emmanuel, 32, wants to dispel the myth that chocolate is for the rich. “We’ve decided officially to make the most inexpensive chocolate bar on the African continent,” says Emmanuel, who was recognised by the country’s president last year as Young Entrepreneur of the Year. His Instant Chocolate bars sell for about 30 cents apiece.

The queen of the bonkbuster

Most authors struggle to earn a living from writing, but Jilly Cooper (pictured above), the English author known as “the queen of the bonkbuster”, has turned the art into an industry. Cooper has published a string of bestsellers, known for their huge cast list and doorstopper weight. But at 79, with 31 years of book publishing under her belt, she is showing no signs of giving up.

Her latest novel, Mount!, has been described by critics as a jolly romp through the world of horse racing and it is galloping up the bestseller list. Her next book, Tackle!, is about highly charged footballers attempting to save their local newspaper – in the process revisiting Cooper’s roots.

After studying typing, she began her career earning £6 a week, covering funerals and weddings for the Middlesex Independent. She kept firing off letters to people on Fleet Street, saying “I’m 22, quite good-looking, and I’d love to… work on your newspaper”, but “none of them” replied. After a brief stint in public relations, Cooper wrote for teenage magazines and landed a column in
The Sunday Times, moving into raunchy novels, which proved a money-spinner.

Her characters show an aversion for greed and Cooper is shy about discussing money. Like the Queen, she banks with Coutts and refuses to handle cash, which is left to her personal assistant, Pam. “I’m not very good with money. I’m always losing it. Pam understands money and I really do not.” Cooper says that her best financial decision was buying a house in Fulham in the early 1990s for £100,000, after receiving a royalty cheque. The house is “worth a lot more now”.

Publishing, Cooper tells The Guardian, is a constant trade-off between high-mindedness and making money. “Jeffrey Archer and I long for a kind word in The Guardian,” she says, “while literary writers have lots and lots of kind words in The Guardian but probably long for Jeffrey’s and my sales. It must be irritating.”