Emily Jackson’s days always seem to be abuzz with activity. That’s to be expected when you are raising young children. The 22-year-old has two children, Ellerie, 2, and Eli, 9 months. And there’s one more on the way.
While the occupation of a stay-at-home mom is labor intensive, it can be more drudgery than glamor — or so Emily thought.
“I felt like all I did was change diapers and clean bottles,” she said.
For a break in the monotony, she started making videos.
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“I just needed a hobby outside of ‘mom life,’” she said.
She started shooting for personal documentation of her kids as they grew. But as it turns out, the day-to-day chores of motherhood punctuated by the whirlwinds of life in the metro-east also make for pretty compelling viewing for people outside the family.
Emily has taken her life to YouTube and made it the focus of a daily vlog — video blog — called, “The Jackson Hive.” She, her husband Kyle, and her kids have the starring roles. As of mid-October, more than 4,900 subscribers follow them.
“One time, I had a lady stop and ask me questions while I was shooting myself in Target, and it was kind of neat, because she said she had seen my vlog before, too,” Emily said.
It started back in March with an occasional post here and there.
“To be honest, I started this channel because I was bored,” she said.
When she began, Emily knew very little about video production.
“I didn’t know the first thing about this stuff when I started,” she said.
So she sought to learn. She spent hours researching and teaching herself about all the technical aspects.
She was also a little “camera shy,” but with practice came confidence.
“When I started, I was super awkward talking to the camera, and I didn’t even realize I was, but you get so much more comfortable over time,” Emily said.
She has it all down now. She shoots video throughout the day, then spends several hours editing in the evenings to produce a 12-20 minute video, which she will post the following day around 11 a.m. She’s been at it a few months.
“YouTube has become my creative outlet and has become a huge passion of mine,” she said.
The subject of each post changes, but it is always tied back to her life as a mom, wife, sister and daughter. An episode may be a home tour, what activities her family did that day, what they ate that day, or her cleaning the house. Sometimes, it may be a montage of various things, or simply how she feels on a certain topic.
“For example, some of them I have titled by what happened with our kids, like ‘Baby’s First Word’ or different things I can look back on … and I can talk about things I’m struggling with, and really help somebody get through their day,” Emily said.
Keeping it real
Giving strangers a line into her home is hard sometimes, Emily said. Some things, such as her personal finances and relationships, are boundaries she and her husband agree to keep off-screen.
“There are some things we share and some we don’t. It’s kind of like you want to be real, so people can relate and get to know you, without putting it all out there,” Emily said.
But she has no problem letting her guard down or telling her audience exactly how she feels.
“As long as I’m growing and sharing who I am and staying true to who I am, if someone doesn’t like that, then that’s on them,” Emily said.
That authenticity is what she thinks people appreciate, especially on hard days.
“So many people are saying, ‘So glad you posted that. I’ve been having a rough day. You don’t know how much this helped me.’ And I actually got a couple of messages saying, ‘I was at the point of tears, then I watched that video and couldn’t believe that a YouTuber says they’re struggling being a mom and stuff like that,’” Emily said.
While YouTube has compensated her a handful of times for the success of her channel, Emily said her drive isn’t focused on money.
“It’s changed for me, as far as it’s not really about how many subscribers. It’s just more, ‘I’m gonna try and focus on how can I impact those 4,000 people’s lives and how can I get a message across,’” Emily said.
And she listens to her fans’ feedback. By special request of her followers, Kyle’s involvement in her vlogs has increased with time.
“When I first started, (Kyle) didn’t care, really. I think he felt kind of indifferent. Like, he was thinking it was a neat thing for me, but it wasn’t really for him, and then now he’s more changed to he wants this to be like a ‘family thing,’” Emily said.
She said Kyle — who she met in the eighth grade while they students at Fulton Junior High in O’Fallon, dated throughout high school at OTHS and married when they were just 18 — is now in “wholeheartedly.”
Her parents, Justin and Stefanie Carroll, and her younger brothers, Jay, 16, and Joey, 14, have also made cameos.
“We support her. It gives her an outlet, and it’s a great way for her to document her kids’ lives. So that’s neat,” her dad said.