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4.29.21   7:30 PM

Megan Letter is always on. As a full-time gaming YouTuber who makes videos for an audience of nearly 5 million subscribers across four channels, "off" isn't really an option.

The line between Letter's life and MeganPlays' business is nonexistent, and her colorful, Roblox-focused content has become inextricable from her identity. When she catches a breath between long descriptions of her ever-changing, increasingly demanding day-to-day duties, you get a glimpse of a person who's always on camera, but rarely seen. She's feverishly determined, and her exhaustion is edited out.

Letter's demeanor isn’t unlike the archetypical startup founder. In fact, she already has her eyes set on venture capital, following a parade of appearances across business publications this year. MeganPlays doesn’t stop at YouTube. After becoming a top Roblox creator, Letter launched her own game studio that released its first title, Overlook Bay, in 2020.

All of Letter's projects build on each other and strengthen her empire. Overlook Bay's updates aren’t just focused on players, they're optimized for MeganPlays YouTube content. Her merchandise is branded under the catchphrase “Stay Peachy,” Letter's signature sign-off. Everything circles back to her personal brand, the core of Letter's business. Megan Letter represents a new wave of founders, disrupting venture capital, game development, and the fledgling world of YouTube creators. 

Letter spoke about her path to success, her growing media empire, and the personal toll of never “shutting off." For an abridged version of this interview, click here.

  • Pre-YouTube life and finding success with Roblox

    00:00:00

    What were you doing before making YouTube videos, and what led you to YouTube in the first place?

    Before YouTube, I was studying to be in graphic design. I actually have a diploma hanging on my wall — you can't really see it, but it's over there. I started YouTube as a hobby since I was watching people playing games and ranting on YouTube. So I picked it up as a creative outlet to make rants and just express my feelings. It obviously evolved since I got into gaming and everything, but before I was able to do it full time, I was just in college and I got really lucky. As soon as I got out of college, it took off and started being a career. 

    In my senior year, we had this preparation class where you prepared for the real world. I was able to work on my channel stuff for that class, and they gave me credit for it; I was able to intern for myself. In the last year of college, it just started taking off and working. I wasn't doing much — I was a student, I worked at Kate Spade, Hollister, Aerie, retail, stuff like that. 

    I was reading in a Forbes article that it wasn't quite taking off and then you embraced Roblox. 

    I was doing The Sims, as well as some Minecraft content here and there. And it got really, really low, to the point where I was making $800 a month. Luckily, my now-husband was like, “Don't worry, I got you while we figure this out.” So I wasn't in danger of totally losing everything. I was looking at getting jobs and interning as a wedding florist because I thought that was cool. But I just decided I didn't really have anything to lose because all the views were at rock bottom — I was getting 100,000 views a month. It's really scary, I didn’t have anything to lose.

    “The content creative space can be really cutthroat. I did not have any friends coming up in the space.”

    I was like, “I'm gonna try Roblox. It seems like a really great community with endless opportunities,” and I had a friend who told me that it was just the space to be in. They were like, “Roblox is the next big thing.” I started to look into it after that. And then in under a month, I was able to turn around and start making a few thousand [dollars] a month. It was really just overnight, and I'd never made that much money in my entire life — like a couple thousand a month being a student in college. That was a lot. It just really worked out.

    When I switched, I had 160,000 views a month, then the next month went to 250,000 views a month, then it went to 2.6 million views a month, and then 4.5 million, so it just rapidly accelerated [once I switched to Roblox]. 

    It was exponential, you must have really not been expecting that. 

    No, I was really shocked. I started making this role play/story series, and all of a sudden people started really, really enjoying it, and liking it, and I just ran with it, using Roblox characters as the characters [in the story] and stuff.

    What was your demographic at the beginning there? 

    My demographic is the same as it was then. It's very, very consistent. I just took a poll out of 70,000 people — 90% are female, and then they were ages seven to 14. So that's the widest [range] but really narrowly it's nine to 10 if you really centered in there. Most people seem to fall in there. 



  • The business of being a YouTuber

    00:04:15

    People often look at people who work in games and say “Wow, your job must be so easy. You just sit and play video games all day.” But it seems like you do a lot. You have three YouTube channels that have daily uploads, a live stream, you have the development team working on games in Roblox — I would love it if you could talk about your production schedule and the different moving parts of the business.

    I have a really strong opinion about this, because it really bothers me when people say I could sit on my butt and play video games all day and post it and become a millionaire. Capture software's free, so do it. Do it. I invite everybody to try it, see if it happens. It's hard. Every single day, like most days, I record five videos to maintain my three channels I'm doing.

    It's not just that. After that I respond to emails all day. I've been doing emails, and then brand deals, and it really is a full time job. Not to mention, you're your own boss, which takes a lot of discipline. Because if I really wanted to, I could lay in bed for a week straight. Nobody would knock on my door and be like, “What are you doing, get up, go to work.” It takes a lot of self-starting discipline. I don't like to use the word “motivation,” because there's a lot of times where you're not motivated. So it's just discipline. 

    “Every time I go out to eat, I see some kid playing Roblox on their tablet or the hair salon. Everywhere.”

    Between all the emails, all the administrative stuff, and then the stuff that you see on camera, it's a lot. I could sit here on my computer all day and punch numbers. But it's a lot different than performing and coming up with a creative idea every single day, or three creative ideas every single day, and then cultivating that into real life. And then you also want to take time to interact with your viewers. And then administrative stuff, meetings, tons of meetings. My schedule is a few meetings and different things a day. I'm very, very organized about all of it. 

    Then it's also game meetings and game development. My husband handles a lot of that. He's probably in game meetings right now. We're hiring another programmer — we have a whole team of people. We're moving them down into an office space — we just bought a building to house our production studio and our gaming studio. With the production and game development, we expect to have around 60 employees by the end of 2021.

    What does an average day of work for one of your YouTube channels look like, from the process of coming up with a video to recording it, to it going live? 

    I wake up around 8:30 to 9 every day, do my hair and makeup every day, which is a lot and not fun. Then I come up here, and I'll come up with ideas. One day of the week, I'll grab like five titles. And then I’ll say, “Okay, these are the ideas I want to center on.” Every day I film four to five videos right now, along those titles. For one of my channels, we actually hired a writer to write the scripts for the stories — for the roleplay content. But on my main channel, it's just trying to see what is trendy, what's hot, what's working right now. For example, when some of these games have updates, I cover those. 

    So after I record those videos, I'm always uploading them into Google Drive. My editor edits them, and he edits probably the same amount of videos a day because he edits for three of my channels: The real life one, Brookhaven, and my main channel. 

    So every day we finish filming by two or three, and that's when I start to email until maybe 6 p.m. And a lot of planning goes into that. Then I get to take a break. But then it's also like — it doesn't ever seem to be over. I could go downstairs and go to the kitchen and eat dinner, but then I get another email. It's like, “I just have to respond to this.” So it fizzles off, and I can take off my makeup by like, 5pm. But then I'm still doing work behind the scenes, if that makes sense. 

    It sounds like a full time job. 

    Yeah, my family worries about me. Because they know that I don't say I work harder than them. Because everybody — that's an opinion, right? But they know that I work myself into a stress ball. To be in my position, you have to be a bit of a workaholic. You have to really just be okay with working whenever, wherever, at any point in time. It used to be really flexible. I could just go on vacation whenever. But once you scale it to so many channels, and so many employees and so many goals and aspirations, it becomes a lot less flexible. 

    What are the goals and aspirations? What is the next level for you?

    It's all about scaling to bigger and better things. And that's where we are right now. I'm hoping by the end of the year to be distributed in merchandise stores — I didn't even mention Staypeachy.com, which is my merchandise and apparel collection! Like I said, there's so many facets to all of this, it's easy to leave some of them out. So we want to do more rich collections. We want to do more channels, we want to do more games.

  • Growing the MeganPlays channel and brand

    00:10:35

    I'm curious about the early days of expanding and diversifying, getting into Twitch, and branching out with other YouTube channels. Were there any strategies that you used to scale up and get bigger?

    It comes up naturally, especially in the very beginning. Whenever you're a YouTuber, you film your own videos, you edit your own videos, you make your own thumbnails, and then you upload. And as you go on, if your channel starts making more money, you're like, “I could put more creative power into a video if I don't have to edit it. And I can pass it off to an editor, and let them be good at editing. And I'll be good at this instead of a jack of all trades.”  It gets really easy as you progress, like, “Okay, now I can afford to hire a thumbnail artist that takes off my plate. And I can just focus on this.” So you start there. 

    Then you branch out in a different direction. Now that you have a fan base, you're like, “I can sell merchandise, people might want to wear my T shirts, they might want to wear my items.” For example, I sell these puzzles, and they always sell out. Right now, we luckily have them printed on demand. So when people buy them, they just get paid. But it's super easy to even start that — if you're a new creator, and you want to sell merch, Teespring is free to get on. You put your own design up, and then you just get a profit. They do all the upfront costs. So you start there.

    “I do love my audience. And I do feel like I have a big sister relationship to them. But I do make a very, very extreme conscious effort to draw that line.”

    Say you start doing really well in merch, maybe a merch company approaches you and they say “Hey, we’ll front the cost, we just get a percent." And then you're like, “Sounds great. Now I get my own customer. Now I get plushies and puff balls and purses and all this stuff,” and you expand that way. It comes really naturally at first. 

    Trying to get bigger than one person like myself is where you start to be like, “How do I exactly do this?” And it's actually been really like... I don't think it's been hard. But of course you can only do so much as a human. So my husband and I right now are raising venture capital. We're in conversation with a couple of those people to get funding so that we can explode our team and bring on tons of people with salaries, CFOs, production assistance, stuff like that. I would really love somebody to help me post to my Instagram. That's where I am right now, where I can't even come up with a poll a day on my Instagram community. I can't even come up with community posts every single day. I could, but it's not on the front of my plate. So it'd be nice to just have somebody that uploads all of your TikToks for you from clips of your videos. To post all of these community tabs for you to keep your audience engaged.

    I had a question about venture capital money. What part of the operation is that for? Is that for game development, or is it for the whole umbrella? 

    It's for both of them. So right now we are mostly talking for game development. We just actually put out a job listing for a programmer with a salary up to $84,000 a year, which is very competitive. And I mean, it's a Roblox game developer. These companies are talking about being invested in MeganPlays LLC, my business on the production side. We also have Wonderworks Studios LLC, that's the game side of MeganPlays.



  • From Roblox YouTuber to developer

    00:14:06

    I think this is a perfect time to ask a little bit about Roblox. Can you explain for the layman what Roblox is, and what makes it unique?

    Big misconception — Roblox isn't a game, like you play Roblox, but it's actually a hub of millions of games. It's similar to if you went on Neopets, and then Neopets has tons of different minigames on it, if that makes sense.

    What's really great is, Roblox has all these crazy education systems to get people started. So you can have a child, maybe at like age 12 or13, if you want to get them into game programming, Roblox has those tools. You sit them down in front of the computer, they learn how to code, they make their own games, and then they make their own money. It's very, very accessible. 

    They also have a UGC program — UGC stands for user generated catalogue — where creators and users can create their own models to sell on the Roblox platform for avatar items. And then you get "Robux" from that. And then you can DevEx that to real money. Same with clothing. So there's all these multifaceted ways for little young entrepreneurs, or little programmers and little artists to get their feet wet and start making money really young, or just start taking on that responsibility and really digging into what they enjoy. And they do this everywhere. Every time I go out to eat, I see some kid playing Roblox on their tablet or the hair salon. Everywhere.

    How did you personally go from creating content about Roblox, playing it every day for videos, to the first thought of, “Maybe I should make a game within Roblox,” what was that journey like?

    I remember exactly that moment. I'm creating content every single day on the same game, which gets a little hard sometimes. And sometimes you're like, “If they would just add this to the game, that would make my life so much easier.” Sometimes, these developers don't really take advice because they don't need to, they don't want to. It’s their game, that's fine. We wanted to create a game where we could do anything we wanted. And we wanted to create a game where you can make up your own stories. That'd be really great for creating content. If anybody can do it, why couldn't we do it? 

    “To be in my position, you have to be a bit of a workaholic. You have to really just be okay with working whenever, wherever, at any point in time.”

    That's exactly why we started thinking about making games. For example, there's a game I really like to play, but it doesn't have a creator cabinet. So I can't get all the UI to go away. So then you have to pinch really small to your footage. I would just love a way to turn that UI off. So it's little things like that, that make creating easier. Or a really sought after dress up catalog to make dressing your character up, and saving their outfit, which would be really useful whenever you're telling these stories. That's how we got into it, as wanting some of these utilities that we weren't finding and games that we already liked. And then trying to create our own thing with all the utility we would want in a game.

    What is your day-to-day involvement with the development side? 

    I'm more of a creative idea person with that one, because I don't know how to program or model. My husband manages the team, he tells them what to do. But we brainstorm all the updates, and we're like, “Oh, this would be fun to add. We could have a map that looks like this. And we want a soundtrack that looks like this.” So I'm more on the creative side of like, “This is the update we need to do. And here's the ideas for it.”

    And then my husband will go in and he'll fine tune. He'll make the game documents, which are 20 or 30 pages each time for the update. And then he ships it off to the developers, the modelers, the UI people. He manages that. We creatively come up with all the ideas and grab little concepts for it and inspiration. Mostly storyboarding, I guess you could call it that.

  • The toll of always being “on”

    00:19:28

    You've talked about how it can be exhausting to play the same game all the time. And yet even here in this call, and in all of your videos, you're extremely high energy. What is it like to spend your whole day from when you wake up, being “on” all the time? How do you unwind?

    I am kind of “on” all the time, because I'm excited. Like, I'm excited to be here, for example, I'm not forcing the way I am right now. That's very, very rare that I have to come on and be like, “Okay, guys.” Anytime you've really hit a wall, then it's a little bit more difficult. I guess my personality has been molded from doing this for so long and so many years. I even talked to people in gatherings, when we were having gatherings, and they would always be like, “Oh, you're so animated.”

    It comes with being on camera all the time. You just get into these habits. So I guess I'm [at that level of energy] and I don't feel like I am. But then some nights, I’m so tired, I just want to take off my makeup and just watch movies. So me and my husband, we watch a lot of movies. I converted my garage into a pottery studio so I can do pottery to unwind and relax. 

    It does take a really big mental toll. The hardest part for me is the fear of letting people down. For example, if I get my video in late, I feel really bad about my editor, like, “Oh my god, I'm so sorry.” I’ve never missed a deadline for any brand that I ever worked with, because I will not allow myself to do that. I've always had a very, very high work ethic, and it really eats at me. If I do miss something like that, like I got my thumbnail in late today, I write a paragraph to my editor like, “I'm really sorry, if you need me to make this, just let me know, I know it's late.” 

    What was that period of really rapid growth like, when you went from a couple thousand to 100,000 to millions of views?

    It was so cool, but it was so scary. It was really cool and awesome and fun. But it always comes with this feeling. It's a feeling I get every day, like when is it all gonna be over? When is YouTube going to pluck you out of the algorithm and throw you away? Because they can do that. It's not their fault. It's not selective. But it was really scary. “Do they like this video, I hope that they like this one.” You just always want to impress people, you always want to do your best and then you fear putting out something bad. 

    The content creative space can be really cutthroat. I did not have any friends coming up in the space. Some people, when they're really up here, they're really threatened when somebody starts to come up next to them because they feel their viewer base being [threatened]. But that's just not something that happens. So I didn't have a lot of friends coming up. I reached out to multiple people, I was very shut out. A lot of people didn't want to collab with me. I was nothing but very nice. 

    So that's all I have to say about that. But it does get really competitive. And some people can really rain on your parade. But if you're not hurting them, and you're just quite literally doing you and pay your bills to stay alive, or not, like it's all you can do. You can't control other people, but it was scary.

  • Parasocial fan relationships and advice for creators

    00:23:23

    I'm really curious about the parasocial aspect of content creators. If I were a regular viewer of yours, for example, I could perceive myself, maybe subconsciously, to have a relationship with you. Is that something you think about or actively work on?

    I do love my audience. And I do feel like I have a big sister relationship to them. But I do make a very, very extreme conscious effort to draw that line. For example, my viewers will add me into Instagram group chats all the time. And sometimes I'll pop in and be like, “Hey, guys.” Recently, I thought they were discussing something that I just couldn't be [a part of]. So I was like, “Hey, guys, I have to dip out, this is not a group chat for me.” 

    They were talking about their crushes on Bryce Hall. And I was like, “I just can't be a part of that.” I will always give advice to my audience in a public forum. If they tweet me like, “Hey, I'm having trouble with bullying, what can I do?” I do that, but I really draw a line at sharing any personal details with my audience. I don't reach out to anyone else and be like, “Today, I'm feeling sad, because XYZ,” that’s totally inappropriate. I really stand by that, because they aren't children. And you have to draw that line. I don't want to comment on anybody else's situation. But at the same time, I don't know how it keeps on happening over and over again. 

    My big fear is having such an open relationship with my audience. On my YouTube videos, I say, “I'm feeling anxious today. And here's why. Here's how I'm doing medically.” I'm very open there. With that, I do feel connected with my audience. But then I also get afraid when people show up to my house.That's where it's like, “Oh, Megan's my big sister. She's my friend. Because I feel like I know her.” Then their parents will drive to my house. And I'm like, “Oh, this is my private space.” My worst fear is somebody going into my backyard and like interacting with my dogs. That's my biggest fear with people, not really knowing that there's a line there between what's public and what's private. I do think it's a big responsibility. And I don't think it's a hard responsibility for creators to not get super personal with people. I don't see why that's happening.

    I love meeting my audience in public when they run to me at Disney World. I love that. I'll take photos when they come up to me while I'm eating dinner. I don't mind taking photos. But if someone comes up to my door any day that's not Halloween, I am very uncomfortable.

    Somebody did come up on Halloween. It was the only trick-or-treater we got. I bought tons of candy, I live in the suburbs where no one came except for this one girl, and she screamed. She was so excited. I just gave her a whole bag of candy because no one else came.

    What advice do you have for aspiring creators?

    I feel like a lot of people, when they're asked for advice, rather than just, “follow your heart, do what you want” — yes. But be smart about it. Create content that people are typing into that search bar. If you play a game, and you know how to get the super secret item from a tutorial, make that tutorial. If you think, “I don't know how to do this, this is really hard to do, how can I help other people do this,” that's going to get eyes on your channel. 

    It's not posting this one type of content. It's posting content that's going to get in the search, that's going to help people, that's going to bring people to your channel, and then you can post your own content in between. You have to find ways to get new eyes, and that is by getting into the YouTube search. That's really important advice I have for people. It's how I grew my channel, from doing Roblox tutorials. And then I could do Roblox roleplays. And then it's like, “Oh, this game updated. So I'm going to hit this update really hard. Everyone that's searching for this update is gonna find my channel. And then they can watch fun stuff in between the updates.” So you really have to think about it, you have to cover those updates. 

    Do not go into it thinking it's going to be your career, because that will be very frustrating. And it'll cause immediate burnout. Anybody who is hoping to get rich quick, you have to go into it because you love it. Because if you don't, you are going to have zero fun, and you're going to have all the stress with none of the enjoyment of it. That's how I would have creatives start to build their channel: update content, tutorial content.

    You're just talking about all the young girl gamers out there. What is your experience with coming into this perceived male-dominated space and being a really prominent woman? 

    Luckily, it's not such a problem anymore. When I first came into the space, I did do Twitch. I do live streams on YouTube, but I don't do Twitch. Because I had a lot of negative experiences where I would just be trying to play Mortal Kombat and I beat the game. I won. I got the “You Win” screen. And some guy was like, “You didn't play it right.” I was like, “I just beat the game. What do you mean?”

    Luckily, Roblox is such an inclusive community. I haven't seen one sexist thing. I haven't seen one misogynistic thing from anybody in the Roblox community. I just haven't, because I think it's already such an integrated space, because it's a younger demographic, mostly. And they're growing up in a more cohesive space that isn't just a cookie cutter of what a gamer should be or look like. I know more girl Roblox players than guy Roblox players. I do think that our young girl gamers are growing up at a much different time than I did, which makes me very, very happy to see because I love playing video games. So it's just really nice.

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